50th Independence Day Bombing: Henry Okah Is Found Guilty By South African Court

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 Henry Okah, the former head and motivator of the Movement For the Emancipation Of Niger Delta(MEND) has been found guilty of masterminding the massive bomb attack that rocked the nation’s 50th anniversary Independence Day celebration in 2010.

A South African court on Monday morning  found Henry Okah guilty of terrorism charges leveled against him by the federal government. He  has been  convicted of 13 counts related to acts of terrorism.

Okah is accused of masterminding the two car bombings which exploded as the nation celebrated the 50th Independence anniversary in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory  on October 1 in 2010.

12 people were killed and 36 were injured. He was arrested in Johannesburg the following day as streams of text messages were traced to his personal mobile phone.

Okah was allegedly the leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) that claimed responsibility for the blasts.

He was charged with engaging in terrorist activities, conspiracy to engage in terrorist activity, and delivering, placing, and detonating an explosive device.

Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, who was first to give evidence at the opening of Okah’s trial said Okah was a “key figure in the Niger Delta struggle and the militants had a lot of respect for him”.

Okah denied involvement in the attacks and also denies being the leader of the group.

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

“The evidence that was given by his accomplices was not contradicted,” Judge Claassen said, Reuters news agency reports.

The Presiding Judge Neels Claassen, said Mr Okah was found guilty on 13 counts 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 Neels Claassen said when handing down judgment.

“The evidence of all the accomplices that worked with him was not contradicted… I found that (Okah is the) leader, planner, funder, supplier… of car bombs used in Warri in March 2010 and on October 1, 2010.”

Claassen said Okah’s failure to testify meant evidence against him remained uncontested.

Okah was allegedly the leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) that claimed responsibility for the blasts.

He was charged with engaging in terrorist activities, conspiracy to engage in terrorist activity, and delivering, placing, and detonating an explosive device.

Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godsday Orubebe, who was first to give evidence at the opening of Okah’s trial said Okah was a “key figure in the Niger Delta struggle and the militants had a lot of respect for him”.

Okah denied involvement in the attacks and also denies being the leader of the group.

State prosecutor Shaun Abrahams said justice had been done. The ruling showed South African and foreign law enforcement agencies could work together.

“There is no safe haven in South Africa.”

Abrahams said legislation provided for a minimum sentence of life imprisonment for Okah’s crimes.

After the guilty finding, Okah was taken to the court holding cells under heavy police guard.
He will be sentenced later.