26 March 2013

Nigeria: Okah Jailed for 24 Years

Photo: Werner Beukes/Sapa
Prison rights activist Golden Miles Bhudu demonstrates outside the Johannesburg High Court, where Nigerian Henry Okah, found guilty of masterminding two car bomb blasts in Abuja, appeared for pre-sentencing proceedings.

Nigerian terrorist Henry Okah was jailed for 24 years by the High Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

"Effectively, the accused [Okah] is therefore sentenced to 24 years imprisonment," Judge Neels Claassen said, handing down sentence.

On January 21, Okah was found guilty on 13 counts of terrorism, including engaging in terrorist activities, conspiracy to engage in terrorist activities, and delivering, placing, and detonating an explosive device.

The charges related to two car bombs in Abuja, Nigeria, in which 12 people were killed and 36 injured on October 1, 2010, the anniversary of the country's independence.

The second bombing took place in Warri on March 15, 2010 at a post amnesty dialogue meeting. One person was killed and 11 seriously injured.

In both bombings, two car bombs went off minutes apart in both places. The cars were parked in close proximity to each other.

Claassen sentenced Okah to 12 years imprisonment for each of the bombings and 13 years for the threats made to the South African government after his arrest in October 2010.

The 13 years would run concurrently with the 24 years.

In January, during judgment Claassen said the State had proved Okah's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and his failure to testify meant the evidence against him remained uncontested.

Okah has denied any involvement, claiming the charges against him were politically motivated.

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