Amnesty 'proves Okah is rebel leader'

2010-10-20 16:08

Johannesburg – The fact that suspected Nigerian bombing mastermind Henry Okah accepted amnesty in his home country was evidence he was a leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend), the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court heard on Wednesday.

"He accepted amnesty and committed himself to working with the Nigerian government in finding peace in the Niger Delta Region," State prosecutor Shaun Abrahams told the court during his closing argument in Okah's bail application.

"The fact the he still supports the rebels' cause, proves that he is still the leader of Mend."

Abrahams pointed out that even his wife, Azuka Okah had referred him as the "leader of Mend", further proving Okah was an active participant in the movement.

Earlier Okah's attorney Rudi Krause told the court the State had not provided solid evidence linking his client to the bombings.

"That is because it (the evidence) does not exist," he said.

The defence insisted the case against the 45-year-old Okah was flawed and that the State's evidence didn't prove his involvement in the twin car bombings, which killed 12 people in Nigerian capital Abuja on October 1.

"Contradicting statements from Nigeria about who was responsible for the bombings should not be relied on as evidence," Krause said.

Weak case

He submitted that two search-and-seizure operations conducted by police at Okah's home were an indication the State had a weak case.

The fact that investigating officer Lieutenant Colonel Graeme Zeeman conducted a raid without obtaining a search warrant, was an indication he did not have "reasonable belief" he would be granted the document.

Abrahams said "due to the lateness of the hour" police could not obtain a warrant on the eve of the September 30 search-and-seizure.

Zeeman conducted the search as he had reasonable belief, Abrahams said.

There was evidence linking Okah to one of the two men still wanted for the Nigerian Independence Day bombing, he said.

The State alleges Okah was classified as a "prohibited person" after irregularities were detected on his application for South African citizenship.

Abrahams said weapons proliferation and money laundering charges were being investigated against Okah. The State alleges he's "the mastermind" behind the attacks.

Using the pseudonym Jomo Gbomo, Okah allegedly sent emails warning about the attacks to the Nigerian authorities. He also allegedly sent a go-ahead to his accomplices in Nigeria to detonate the bombs.

The State opposed Okah's bail on grounds he had the resources to intimidate and influence witnesses – Nigerian nationals in South Africa and west Africa.