by Stanley Azuakola
As Nigeria marks its 52nd Independence Anniversary, memories of its 50th anniversary celebration resurfaced from far away South Africa.
That year, the celebrations were marred by twin bombings allegedly orchestrated by alleged ex-MEND leader, Henry Okah.
Shortly after the bombings, President Jonathan absolved MEND from the brutal blast which killed 12 people even though the group had claimed responsibility. Henry Okah was subsequently arrested in South Africa.
His trial which has been dogged by delays, opens on Monday in South Africa, according to his lawyer. In addition to the October 1, 2010 bombings, Okah also faces terrorism charges over two explosions in March 2010 in the southern Nigerian city of Warri, Delta State.
“It’s Okah’s first day of trial in the South Gauteng High Court today. The defence and prosecution teams are ready to proceed with the matter and a judge has been allocated,” said his lawyer Tsietsi Majang.
The last time the case was in court in January 2012, Okah’s lawyers had asked for more time to prepare their arguments.
South Africa is trying Okah as part of its international obligations because Nigerian authorities have not applied for his extradition.
Okah has denied both involvement in the attacks, as well as charges of being the leader of MEND.