26 January 2013

Nigeria: Independence Day Bombing - Ebiware Gets 32 Years

One of the three persons charged with the 50th Independence Day bombing in Abuja Edmund Ebiware has been sentenced to 32 years imprisonment by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja. Justice Gabriel Kolawole yesterday found Ebiware guilty in the three-count charge filed by the Federal Government and held that the bombing having been carried out near the Eagles Square where the President, Vice President, ministers of the Federal Republic and other foreign dignitaries were seated, is a treasonable felony punishable with life imprisonment.

However, taking cognizance of the plea for mercy by defence counsel Goddy Uche Esq., the judge further ruled that the sentence, which goes with a parole, is subject to review by a presidential prerogative of mercy if the convict shows good conduct after the 32 years.

Ebiware, who was in December, 2010 arraigned along with Charles Okah and Obi Nwabueze over their alleged involvement in the twin bomb blasts that occurred at the Eagles Square on October 1, 2010 had in May, 2012 applied for separate trial following the appeal filed by Charles Okah and Nwabueze before the Appeal Court, Abuja Division.

Charles' brother and leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Henry Okah was on January 21 sentenced by a South African court over the blasts which killed 12 persons and left 30 vehicles destroyed and two other explosions in March, 2010 in Warri, Delta State. His sentence is billed for January 31.

In a marathon judgment which lasted four hours, Justice Kolawole determined that the convict according to his statements to the State Security Service (SSS) had foreknowledge of the attack, but failed to report to the authorities or a peace office as provided in section 40 (b) of the Criminal Code Act.

Besides, the judge observed that Ebiware did not report the alleged threat to his life by Henry Okah to the Police or his family and none of the eight defence witnesses is his relation, adding that their evidence would have counted in his favour during the trial.

Reacting to the judgement, defence counsel Uche said his client will appeal the ruling. He said the parole was invented by the judge and unknown in Nigerian law. He also said there was no question of treasonable felony, because it cannot be established that an attempt to overthrow the government was made on the day of the incident.

Also, prosecuting counsel Bello Abu, who represented Alex Izinyon (SAN) said the conviction, which is the first terrorism conviction and sentence in Nigeria, will send the signal to the international community that Nigeria is not a country that condones terrorism.

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