VPRO-E NEWS: South African Court convicts Nigerian exImilitant, Henry Okah


A South African court had convicted Henry Okah, the man alleged to be the brain behind the October 1, 2010 bomb blast in Abuja. Mr. Okah was arrested in Johannesburg, South Africa a day after the ugly incident by the South African cops on the note the of suspicion and intelligent report gathered by the Nigerian SSS that he had a connection to the bombing. Mr. Okah is the leader of the Movement of the emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND)

Mr. Okah was faced with 19 count charges relating to terrorism and had ever then been in detention, not until on Sunday when he was convicted of the crime. He is to bag away a life sentence has verdict comes up in two weeks time. He had denied the charges and militant group Mend said it had carried out the attack. Mr. Okah has always denied being Mend’s leader.

Johannesburg High Court Judge Neels Claassen convicted Okah on charges ranging from conspiracy to commit terrorism to detonating explosives.

“I have come to the conclusion that the state proved beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of the accused,” Judge Claassen said, AFP news agency reports.

Prosecutor Shaun Abrahams told AP news agency that Okah faced life in prison.

South Africa worked closely with foreign law enforcement agencies “to make sure justice is done in Africa,” he said.

“This [conviction] is clearly indicative that South Africa cannot be seen as a safe haven for international terrorists,” Mr Abrahams said.

Okah was arrested on gun-running charges in Angola in 2007 and then transferred to Nigeria but never convicted. He was released after two years under an amnesty for oil militants and he returned to South Africa, where he had lived since 2003.

Mend says it is fighting so that more of Nigeria’s massive oil wealth is used to benefit the Niger Delta area which produces the oil. But criminal gangs have taken advantage of the region’s instability to make money from ransoms paid by oil companies, and by stealing oil.

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