Okah case postponed for judgment

2010-11-04 18:36
Johannesburg - The bail application of Nigerian terror accused, Henry Okah, was postponed for judgment in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

"This is one of those cases where I need time to carefully consider all the factors," Magistrate Hein Louw said. The case was postponed to November 9.

Okah is suspected to have been the mastermind behind the October 1 Independence Day car bombs in Abuja, Nigeria.

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

However in his closing argument, defence lawyer Rudi Krause maintained that the prosecution had yet to produce evidence linking Okah directly to the crime.

"The content of the (State's) affidavit is not true," Krause earlier read Okah's affidavit to the court.

If the State possessed incriminating evidence against his client, it would have taken the opportunity to produce such evidence while Okah testified in the case.

He urged the court to grant Okah bail as he had been in prison for a month. If bail was denied Okah would have to wait for up to two years before his trial could resume.

In opposing the bail, State prosecutor Shaun Abrahams said he had applied for refugee status as he was illegally in South Africa.

"He is also afraid that Nigerian authorities may apply for his extradition, Abrahams said in closing argument in Okah's bail application.

He said that the State had a strong case and was confident that Okah would be convicted when the matter went to trial.

Shopping list

Okah's bail application has lasted seven days.

The case drew attention to Okah's diary entries which included a "shopping list" of high-calibre weapons.

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

The State believed Okah was a well connected and dangerous man and his release could not only put South Africa, but the international community at risk.

Abrahams told the court Okah orchestrated the attacks from South Africa. He further claimed he was a leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta.

The fact his wife Azuka Okah had referred to him as the leader the group was evidence Okah was still leading it.

The State also alleged cellphone data confiscated from Okah's house revealed he had been in contact with his alleged co-conspirators in Nigeria.

An SMS sent to Okah by Chima Orlu (one of the main suspects in the bombings) read: "Done, tell them to leave".

This was forwarded to Okah on the day of the twin car bombings.

"Prior to the detonation of the two improvised explosive devices on October 1 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 said.

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