Okah masterminded Abuja bombing, says prosecutor

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Henry Okah, the former leader of MEND was in touch with the alleged plotters of the Independence day bombings in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital coordinating  the attack both  before and after the explosion.

Prosecutors said Thursday that Okah exchanged text messages, emails and phone calls with people the Nigerian authorities believe carried out the attacks, and that he gave the orders to buy the two cars and fill them with dynamite.

“The accused gave instructions to purchase the cars used and load their boots with dynamite,” prosecutor Shaun Abrahams said at Okah’s bail hearing in Johannesburg, reading from an affidavit by the South African police’s lead investigator in the case.

Abrahams said Chima Orlu, the man Nigerian authorities believe supervised the attack received instructions from Okah.

South African prosecutors said Thursday the suspected militant leader accused of orcestrating Nigeria’s independence day blasts gave orders to buy the cars used in the bombings and rig them with explosives.

Henry Okah, the alleged leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which claimed responsibility for the attacks, was arrested in Johannesburg on October 2, the day after twincar bombs killed 12 people near the independence day celebrations in Abuja.

“The accused gave instructions to purchase the cars used and load their boots with dynamite,” prosecutor Shaun Abrahams said at Okah’sbail hearing in Johannesburg, reading from an affidavit by the South African police’s lead investigator in the case.

Abrahams said Chima Orlu, the man Nigerian authorities believe supervised the attacks, contacted Okah by SMS immediately before the blasts and about two hours after.

Orlu, who is wanted in Nigeria, “acted on the instruction of the accused,” Abrahams said.

He did not give details of Okah’s alleged exchanges with Orlu, saying the contents are still being investigated.

Abrahams also said Okah was in contact by email with some of the nine people arrested in Nigeria after the blasts, and received a forwarded message from one of them that said, “Done, tell them to leave now”, at 4:25 pm, about five and a half hours after the bombings.

“There are also witness statements which implicate the accused as having been the mastermind behind the attacks,” Abrahams said.

He was speaking a day after the magistrate in the case told the prosecution the evidence it had presented in the week-long bail hearing was “vague”.

Okah, who has been in South African custody since his arrest, denies involvement in the bombings, and disputes that he was ever the leader of MEND, a militant group that claims to be fighting for a fairer distribution of wealth in Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta region.