Okah bail application postponed

2010-11-09 11:26
Johannesburg - The bail application of Nigerian terror accused Henry Okah was postponed in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Tuesday.

Magistrate Hein Louw postponed the application to Friday as he hadn't had enough time to listen to court recordings.

"I wanted to listen to the recordings...but this was not forthcoming," he said.

Okah, who is accused of being the mastermind behind the October 1 bombings in his home country faces charges of terrorism in the Johannesburg court.

Louw said he had not had enough time to listen to court records as they were handed to him on Monday.

Disappointment

Despite his orders that a copy of the recordings not be made available to the public, court officials had handed a news organisation the original copies of the recordings.

Louw had been expected to hand down judgment on the matter.

"My instruction is to record the applicant's disappointment in the state of affairs," defence lawyer Rudi Krause said.

During Okah's last appearance in the court Krause urged the court to grant his client bail as he had been in prison for a month.

He maintained that the prosecution was yet to produce evidence linking Okah directly to the crime.

"This case should set the red lights aflicker for any reasonable person. The State has not produced a shred of evidence. I urge your worship not to be influenced by allegations," said Krause.

If the State possessed incriminating evidence against his client, it would have produced it while Okah was testifying.

'Not a credible witness'


Louw had made it clear that in his testimony, Okah had been "not a credible witness" and that he could not ignore the State's circumstantial evidence against him.

Earlier in the bail application which entered its eighth day on Tuesday, the State was forced by the court to bring "substantial evidence" linking Okah to the twin car bombings that killed 12 people in Abuja.

Prosecutor advocate Shaun Abrahams and his investigating team shocked the defence when they brought an affidavit to court claiming that Okah had been in contact with his alleged co-conspirators.

An SMS sent to Okah by Chima Orlu, a man still wanted in Nigeria for the bombings, read: "Done, tell them to leave".

The message was forwarded to Okah, who was in South Africa, on the day of the October 1 attacks.

The State further brought evidence that Okah had instructed his co-conspirators to buy the two cars used in the Nigerian Independence Day bombings.

"Prior to the detonation of the two improvised explosive devices on 1 October in Abuja, two vehicles, namely a Honda and a Mazda 626 were purchased in Lagos on the instruction of the accused, by persons complicit in the crime," Abrahams read from the affidavit.

Evidence


This evidence, Abrahams said, had been gathered from Okah's cellphones and computers that were confiscated by police during a raid at his house in Mondeor.

In its bid to prove that Okah was a leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) - which has claimed responsibility for the attacks - the prosecution spent much of the bail hearing scrutinising documents including Okah's diaries, invoices and quotations.

"We need heavier equipment and money," an excerpt from his diary read.

Quotations and invoices which had lists of weapons including anti-tank missiles, high calibre guns and mortars were also put under scrutiny.

The fact that in her letter to the media, his wife Azuka Okah had referred to him as the leader of Mend was evidence Okah was still leading it.

Okah also faced investigation by the home affairs department for alleged fraud relating to his application for citizenship in South Africa.

- SAPA
Read more on:    mend  |  henry okah  |  nigeria  |  johannesburg  |  terrorism
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