News / Africa

South African Judge Denies Bail to Nigerian Accused of Terrorism

Undated file photo of Henry Okah  provided by the militant group Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta
Undated file photo of Henry Okah provided by the militant group Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta
Scott Bobb

A court in South Africa has denied bail to a Nigerian businessman who is facing terrorism charges in connection with bombings in Nigeria that killed a dozen people.

The South African judge denied bail to Nigerian businessman Henry Okah saying he believed he was the leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, known as MEND.

MEND claimed responsibility for two car bombings in Abuja on October first in which 12 people were killed and several dozen were wounded.

Okah has denied being a leader of MEND although he admits he sympathizes with its cause.

But the judge said Okah's wife, in a letter provided by the prosecution, called him the leader of MEND. He set the trial date for February.

Okah's lawyer, Rudi Krause, said he was not surprised at the decision and would appeal it.

"I have received instructions from Mr. Okah to proceed with the appeal and we will do so as soon as we can," said Krause.

Okah is accused of terrorism related charges including providing the two cars in which the bombs were detonated on Nigeria's national day. He is also accused of supplying military equipment to MEND through his security company in South Africa.

A great deal of the hearing centered on emails and cellular phones messages between him and known leaders of MEND in Nigeria. The prosecution said these proved he was involved in the attacks.

The defense argued that the messages did not constitute proof.

Nigerian authorities have also detained nine people, including Okah's brother, Charles, in connection with the attacks.

Okah was charged under a six-year-old, rarely-used South African law that allows the state to prosecute an individual for terrorism-related crimes even if the crimes were not committed on South African soil.

The Chairman of the South African Law Society's Criminal Law Committee, attorney William Booth, said the defense might challenge the law's constitutionality.

"Mr. Okah could possibly challenge the validity of this legislation in the Constitutional Court," said Booth. "He could argue very simply he's charged with crimes committed in Nigeria. And South African courts therefore don't have jurisdiction to deal with it."

He said another possibility would be for Okah to be extradited to Nigeria for trial. South Africa and Nigeria have an extradition agreement. But he notes that South African judges may not grant extradition if the defendant might receive the death penalty in the requesting country.

Booth said the bail hearing, which lasted more than one month, had become a mini-trial.

He said under South African law defendants charged with serious crimes, such as murder, must prove to the judge that they deserve bail, that they would not persecute witnesses, for example, or flee the country if released.

Observers said South African authorities, by trying Okah in South Africa, may be seeking to send a message that they will not tolerate activities that support terrorism, even if the attacks are committed in another country.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid