I'm innocent - Okah

2010-10-15 12:23

Johannesburg – Former Nigerian militant leader Henry Okah was expected to appear in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court for the second day of his bail hearing on Friday.

In his previous appearance on Thursday Okah looked comfortable in the dock and shared a smile and wink with his wife Azuka Okah who was seated in the public gallery.

The court heard evidence from the State opposing Okah's bail.

"The accused had an interview with Al-Jazeera television network without authorisation from the police," said Prosecutor Shaun Abrahams.

This was one of the grounds the State would use to try and convince Magistrate Hein Louw to refuse the 45-year-old former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) his bail.

A military uniform, data from computers and letters confiscated from Okah's home in Mondeor, south of Johannesburg, in the early hours of September 13, were also presented as evidence during the bail application.

Denies involvement

In his affidavit, Okah denied any involvement in the October 1 dual car bombing that claimed 12 lives in Nigeria's capital Abuja.

"I am innocent and I challenge the State to give evidence linking me to the crime," his attorney Rudi Krause read from the 32-page document.

A day after the attacks he was arrested in Johannesburg. He was identified as being "the mastermind behind the bombings".

Mend claimed responsibility for the attacks, but denied Okah had been involved.

A former marine engineer, Okah said although he sympathised with the struggle of the poor in oil-rich Nigeria, he had never involved himself in any violence.

He faces charges of engaging in terrorist activities, conspiracy to engage in terrorist activity, and delivering, placing and detonating an explosive device.

SA resident

He currently holds permanent residency in South Africa and earns a living through his security company.

According to his affidavit, police and the army raided his house twice. These searches, one on September 13 and another on October 2, were illegal and did not find any incriminating evidence.

Okah recounted how he and his family were made to stand outside their house while police seized their cellphones and computers.

He also questioned the logic behind his arrest on September 13 and subsequent release.

The Nigerian government could sentence him to death if he were to be extradited and found guilty of the crime.

Okah was arrested in Angola three years ago and transferred to Nigerian custody. He was released as part of an amnesty programme offered to militants in the Niger Delta, the heart of Nigeria's oil industry.