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

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora