16 March 2018

Nigeria: Prison Officers Move Charles Okah to Borno Prisons

Charles Okah, the brother of the leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), who was given a life sentence for terrorism, has been secretly moved from Kuje Prisons, Abuja, to one of the prison facilities in Borno State, THISDAY has learnt.

Worried about his seeming familiarity with the prison environment and the officers at the Kuje Prisons, the authorities of the Nigerian Prison Service (NPS) last Tuesday transferred him quietly.

Okah was sentenced to life imprisonment last week over the October 1, 2010 bombing incident in Abuja

Although the prison source did not give the name of the prison, he hinted that Okah might have been transferred to Bama Prisons.

THISDAY gathered that the plan to move him was kept as a top secret to avoid leaks and operational sabotage.

Plans to move him from Kuje prison where he had been held for years was hatched at 3a.m. but was temporarily put on hold for a few hours.

This was because Okah had suddenly claimed that he had a stomach disorder and would not be able to travel such a long distance in such a condition except he was satisfactorily treated.

When he would not budge, this compelled the prison authorities to take him to the prison clinic where he was treated and given some drugs before he was certified fit for the trip.

However, other logistics arrangements crept up and further delayed the team from moving until at about 7a.m. last Tuesday.

To escort him to his new abode were a team of eight highly armed prison warders who accompanied him in two Hilux vehicles.

While one of the vehicles conveyed Okah and three armed guards, the other escort vehicle contained five other warders and a nurse.

According to the source, the plan to move him became necessary as the convict was said to have become too relaxed and conversant with the Kuje prisons and its personnel.

He said: "We do not want a situation where his familiarity with the prison environment will compromise our rules and procedures."

Meanwhile, Okah was not the only person transferred as his co-accused, Obi Nwabueze, who was also sentenced to life, was transferred to Abeokuta prisons, South-west Nigeria.

Explaining the reason behind the second transfer, the source said: "The plan is to keep both men far away from each other."

Last week Wednesday, the Federal High Court in Abuja sentenced Okah and his co-defendant, Nwabueze, to life imprisonment for masterminding not just the bomb blasts in Abuja on October 1, 2010, but also an earlier one in Warri, Delta State, on March 15 of the same year.

Meanwhile, Okah's elder brother, the leader of MEND, Henry, is serving term at Korkstad Prison in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Province of South Africa.

Given that his appeal was recently dismissed by the Constitutional Court of South Africa, and his sentence upheld, he had since instructed his lawyers to seek redress at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).


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