Leadership (Abuja)

Nigeria: October 1 Bombing - SSS Wanted Me to Implicate IBB, El-Rufai, Others - Okah

Charles Okah, the elder brother of Henry Okah, the alleged mastermind of the 2010 Independence Day bombing in Abuja, has alleged that the State Security Service (SSS) tried to force him to implicate a former military head of state, Gen. Ibrahim Badamosi (retd); owner of RayPower and AIT broadcast stations, Raymond Dokpesi; a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, Malam Nasir El-Rufai; immediate past governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva, and the governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Uduaghan, in order for him to regain his freedom.

Charles Okah is standing trial alongside three others, Obi Nwabueze, Edmund Ebiware and Tiemkemfa Francis Osuwo (who is now late), for allegedly masterminding the October 1, 2010, bomb blasts in Abuja that killed about 12 persons and injured many more. His younger brother, Henry, is also standing trial for the same offence before a South African court. Both are accused of being leaders of Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), a group that claimed responsibility for those bombings.

In a Save Our Soul (SOS) letter to Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, retired Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, which LEADERSHIP accessed, Charles Okah, who is being detained at Kuje Prisons in Abuja, said the SSS arrested him in his home in Apapa GRA, Lagos State, on October 16 and accused of him being Jomo Gbomo, the spokesman of MEND, took him to its headquarters in Abuja in chains and offered him his freedom and a lucrative contract if he falsely testified against his younger brother, Henry, and Babangida, Dokpesi, El-Rufai, Sylva and Uduaghan as his 'conspirators'.

Babangida was a presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the April 2011 presidential election who was seen as the most potent threat to President Goodluck Jonathan's ambition while Dokpesi was his campaign manager. On his part, El-Rufai has been a critic of the Jonathan administration while Sylva and Uduaghan were perceived as funding the opposition to Jonathan's 2011 presidential ambition.

Okah claimed that he was tortured with electric shocks to his private parts until he lost consciousness while his son, a student of University of Kansas in the United States, was detained when he refused to comply with the SSS.

"My son was eventually released after Mr. Femi Falana visited in the company of my wife after a month of being denied access to a lawyer. However, my containers have been impounded up to date and my bank accounts frozen," he wrote.

Okah accused the federal government of double standards in handling the charges of terrorism against him and his co-accused.

According to him, "While the Boko Haram suspects at Kuje prison are allowed to worship in the prison's mosque, we have never set foot in the prison's chapel. They are also enjoying privileges such as cable television, radio, liberty to move within the prison walls, bunk beds to sleep on and phone calls to their families; we are denied all of the above."

The detainee also wondered why Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, an alleged financier of Boko Haram, who is standing trial for sponsoring terrorism, would be given bail while he, Charles Okah, was denied bail for a medical check-up "which in my case is mandatory for a kidney donor, having donated my left kidney to my mother 30 years ago."

Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court Abuja is presiding over both cases.

In the letter, he implored Cardinal Okogie and other church leaders to be "more sensitive and proactive in politics of the land that touches the lives of their followers and not leave delicate issues solely in the hands of corrupt and selfish politicians."

Meanwhile, former FCT minister, Malam Nasir el-Rufai has said the letter written by Okah was quite revealing and confirmed what they have always suspected.

He said: "This confirms what we have always known that they try to blame some of these things on a number of us. Reading it from someone that was asked to name us is quite revealing. It shows the kind of people we have in government."

When LEADERSHIP contacted the SSS spokesman, Marilyn Ogar, she denied knowledge of the letter.

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