by Rachel Ogbu
Henry Okah has received more time to gather witness to testify in the pleading for mitigation of sentence to make sure that justice was done, a South African court says.
“I will grant you this request for the last time. I’m granting you three days from February 28, March 1 and March 4, to call all your witnesses to testify in mitigation or aggravation of sentence,” Justice Neels Claassen of Johannesburg High Court said.
Claassen gave the ruling after a further appeal by Okah’s counsel for adjournment of the case to allow all the witnesses to make their pleas for mitigation sentence on Okah, who was convicted on January 21.
“You have to ensure that all your witnesses appear in court in those three days, and if for any reason any of the witnesses fails to appear, the court will go ahead with the pronouncement of the sentence.”
“I cannot entertain any further delay in this trial due to the nature of the case and its security implication for South Africa and Nigeria governments,” Claassen said.
According to reports, the adjournment is also to allow Okah to engage with the Nigerian government in the peace process in the Niger Delta.
Okah was found guilty on 13 counts of conspiracy to commit terrorism by masterminding two car bomb attacks in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital on October 1, 2010.
The South African judicial system, like most systems, allows convicted persons to plead for mitigation of sentence before the trial judge makes his pronouncement.