“He was a key figure in the Niger Delta struggle” – Minister of Niger Delta testifies against Okah in South African court

by Reuben Daba

YNaija reported yesterday that the trial of ex-militant leader Henry Okah for the 2010 Independence Day bombings in Abuja opened on October 1 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

There to testify against Okah on Day 1 of the trial was Nigeria’s minister of Niger Delta, Godsday Orubebe. As expected, Okah denied all 13 charges related to acts of terrorism.

According to reports:

Okah was arrested in Johannesburg a day after two car bombs in Abuja killed at least 12 people. The MEND militant group, of which he was a senior leader, claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Orubebe told the court that Mr.Okah was a “key figure in the Niger Delta struggle and the militants had a lot of respect for him,” AFP news agency reported.

Okah is being tried under laws that stipulate that South Africa is obliged to try him as he has been a resident in the country and now has South African citizenship.

“Based on the information we have and how we are approaching this case, we are confident that we will get a positive conviction,” South Africa’s National Prosecution Authority spokesperson Phindile Louw told the BBC.

Okah has been in custody in South Africa since his arrest in October 2010 and his lawyers say they want to make a fresh application for bail.

Okah is a controversial figure in Nigeria. The son of a naval officer, he became a very senior member of MEND, which severely disrupted the country’s oil operations, he said.

MEND said it was fighting against injustice and exploitation.

Okah was arrested on gun-running charges in Angola in 2007 and then transferred to Nigeria but was never convicted.

He was released after two years under the amnesty for oil militants and he returned to South Africa, where he had lived. since 2003.

His faction of MEND has never fully participated in the amnesty process.

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