Damning evidence keeps Okah in jail

2010-11-19 13:15
Johannesburg - Nigerian terror accused Henry Okah was denied bail by the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Friday.

"Your bail application has been denied," Magistrate Hein Louw said.

In his testimony Okah failed to convince the court that he was not the leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (Mend).

"The most damning evidence is that in her hand writing, his wife refers to him as the leader of Mend," Louw said.

"He is the leader of Mend on balance of probability."

Mend has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

He faces terrorism related charges for his alleged involvement in the October 1 Independence Day bombings in Abuja.

Louw further stated that Okah's defence had not presented any evidence that his life would be in danger.

In his affidavit, Okah said that he had to undergo a spine operation, which could only be done in a private hospital.

'Okah misled the court'

The State in response said arrangements could be made for the operation to be conducted in a private hospital under police guard.

Louw found that Okah had misled the court during his cross examination.

"The accused was untruthful and he lied to the court," Louw said.

His failure to give a convincing answer explaining why he had compiled a list of high calibre weapons in one of his diaries was also questionable, the court found.

"The applicant has not convinced the court on balance of probability that he will be acquitted (when the matter goes to trial)," Louw found.

Louw questioned why Okah applied for political asylum if his permanent residency in South Africa was legitimate.

In the State's affidavit the home affairs department was investigating Okah for fraud relating to his application for residency in the country.

Evidence presented by the State that the 45-year-old former marine engineer had been in contact with the people who allegedly detonated the bombs in his home country also strengthened the prosecution's case.

An SMS forwarded to Okah by Chima Orlu one of the men wanted for the attacks which read, "Done. Tell them to leave now", was used to prove his involvement in the attacks.


The National Prosecuting Authority said it was vindicated by Louw's judgment.

Okah, who appeared confident before the judgment was given, hurriedly marched to the court's holding cells avoiding journalists who asked him questions about the decision.

His wife, Azuka, and a group of people who were around her stood in disbelief in the public gallery.

They too avoided answering question from the scribes who attended proceedings.

The judgment concluded the drawn out bail application which lasted over a month.

"It's a vindication of our decision to oppose bail in view of the strength of our case. We will impress on the police to speed up their investigation so that we can go to court soon," NPA spokesperson advocate Mthunzi Mhaga said.

He said the prosecution did not want Okah to be kept in jail for a long period and therefore expected the matter to be "dealt with within reasonable time".

Meanwhile Okah's defence lawyer Rudi Krause said he would appeal the decision.

"I'm working on the draft of the appeal, we are definitely appealing the judgment," Krause said.

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