Terrorist ‘my forever guy’

2013-03-26 17:39

The wife of convicted Nigerian terrorist Henry Okah said he was her “forever guy” and that she would stand by him despite his 24-year jail sentence.

“Henry is a forever guy. No matter what, he is stable and faithful to me and I don’t care what anyone else says,” a visibly emotional Azuka Okah told journalists outside the High Court in Johannesburg today.

“We have this forever love,” she said.

Okah was sentenced to in effect 24 years’ in prison for 13 counts of terrorism, including engaging in terrorist activities, conspiracy to engage in terrorist activities, and delivering, placing, and detonating an explosive device in January.

“These are serious charges ...,” Judge Neels Claassen said in handing down sentence.

“The accused has not accepted any responsibility for the crimes committed, nor has he shown remorse.”

Okah was also found unfit to operate weapons.

His wife told journalists she was happy their four children were on holiday, and that she was thinking of how to tell them.

“The kids are the ones I am worried about ... I will get over it, but I need to protect the kids.”

She said the next step was to appeal.

She expected the state to appeal because it had wanted the maximum sentence.

“We have come this far and I just ask for strength going forward,” she said.

As police were about to escort Okah to the court holding cells, he turned and blew kisses to her. She smiled as she jokingly caught the kisses, before blowing him kisses.

Nineteen police officers were present in court during the proceedings today.

The state and Okah’s defence indicated they would appeal the sentence.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Phindi Louw declined to say whether the state would appeal for the imposition of a heavier sentence.

“No sentence is ever too soft, but as the NPA we do accept these results. But we are mapping the way forward to appeal against the sentence,” she said.

In sentencing Okah, Claassen said it would be wrong for the court to turn a blind eye to the fact that the “struggle in Nigeria was for a good cause” and said it was important to balance Okah’s political intentions with the violent nature of his crimes.

He found three “compelling circumstances” justifying a lesser sentence.

The charges related to two car bombs detonated in Abuja, Nigeria, on October 1 2010, the anniversary of the country’s independence. Twelve people were killed and 36 were injured.

Another bombing took place in Warri on March 15 2010 at a post-amnesty dialogue meeting. One person was killed and 11 were seriously injured.

In both bombings, two car bombs went off minutes apart.

The cars were parked in close proximity to each other.

Claassen sentenced Okah to 12 years’ imprisonment for each of the bombings, and to 10 years for threats made to the South African government after his arrest in October 2010.

The 10 years would run concurrently with the 24 years.

Outside the court, prisoner rights activist Golden Miles Bhudu stood at attention, dressed in orange prison overalls with chains wrapped around him.

There were two posters at his feet.

They read: “Henry Okah is a political detainee & not a terrorist, says Sapohr” and “Henry Okah’s trial re-enacts Rivonia trial of 1964, says Sapohr.”

Sapohr is the SA Prisoners’ Organisation for Human Rights.

Bhudu told people gathered around him that South Africa had no right to put Okah on trial for something which happened in Nigeria, and that Okah was not a terrorist.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.