News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
24 Feb 2018
6:20 am

Nigerian bombing mastermind loses Concourt appeal

Ilse de Lange

The court found Nigerian guerilla leader Henry Okah's indiscriminate bombings in that country were intended to inflict maximum carnage.

Nigerian militant leader Henry Okah, left, seen in the courtroom at South Gauteng High Court on February 28, 2013. Picture: AFP/ ALEXANDER JOE

Nigerian guerilla leader Henry Okah lost his final bid to secure his freedom when the Constitutional Court not only dismissed his application for exemption from prosecution, but reinstated his original 24-year prison sentence.

In a unanimous judgment, written by Judge Edwin Cameron, the Constitutional Court dismissed Okah’s appeal against his conviction on 13 counts relating to bombings in Warri and Abuja in Nigeria in 2010, in which at least nine people were killed and many more seriously injured.

Okah, who has been a permanent resident in South Africa since 2007, was found to be the leader of the military resistance group the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta. He planned the Abuja bombings from his home in Johannesburg.

Okah maintained he qualified for exemption from prosecution for the bombings as they were committed in the context of a struggle and the furtherance of a legitimate right to national liberation and self-determination.

The Constitutional Court, however, found the indiscriminate bombings were intended to inflict maximum carnage and violated international humanitarian law.

Cameron said each bombing had involved two sets of explosives crammed into vehicles, with timing devices set to delay the detonation for the second vehicle.

The intention was deadly and cruel. It was intended to attract a crowd to the site of the first explosion, who would in turn be caught in the blast zone of the second explosion, resulting in maximum injury and death, he said.

The court set aside a Supreme Court of Appeal ruling that overturned Okah’s conviction and sentences for the Warri bombings because he was in Nigeria at the time.

It reinstated all of his convictions and the original 24-year sentence imposed on him by the High Court in Johannesburg.

Convicted terrorist Henry Okah loses another court bid

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