Convicted Nigerian terrorist leader Henry Okah lost yet another court bid to be freed, but he vowed to not give up and to once again turn directly to the Constitutional Court. Picture: Zelda Venter
Convicted Nigerian terrorist leader Henry Okah lost yet another court bid to be freed, but he vowed to not give up and to once again turn directly to the Constitutional Court. Picture: Zelda Venter

WATCH: Convicted Nigerian terrorist loses court bid to be freed

By ZELDA VENTER Time of article published Dec 20, 2019

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Pretoria - Convicted Nigerian terrorist leader Henry Okah lost yet another court bid to be freed, but he vowed to not give up and to once again turn 
directly to the Constitutional Court.

Gauteng High Court, Pretoria judge Moses Mavundla advised Okah on Friday to carefully consider his next step, as the apex court only allowed direct access to it in exceptional circumstances.

The judge told Okah that if he wanted to launch a leave to appeal application against the judgment in the high court, he was welcome to do so in January.

But Okah, who was heavily guarded by armed correctional services officers, said he will “100%” turn to the Constitutional Court.

In asking the court earlier this month to declare his conviction on terrorist related charges unlawful and to ultimately set him free, he told the judge: “I am not a terrorist. I am a prisoner of war.”

Okah, who conducted his own case, not only lost his application, but he was slapped with the hefty legal bill, which included three advocates - one of which is a senior advocate - on Government’s side.

He is serving a 24 year prison term after he was convicted in 2013 on several terrorist related charges. It followed the bombings in the Nigerian cities of Warri and Abudja in March and October 2010.

Convicted Nigerian terrorist leader Henry Okah lost yet another court bid to be freed, but he vowed to not give up and to once again turn directly to the Constitutional Court. Video: Zelda Venter.
Twelve people were killed during the bombing in Abuja and 36 were  injured, while one person was killed and 11 serious injured in Warri.

As he was arrested in South Africa later and planned one of the  bombings here, he was tried in a South African court.

His application for the court to declare that he was a participant in  a non-international armed conflict and thus protected by the Geneva  Convention, was refused by Judge Mavundla.

Okah earlier argued that he is entitled to appear before a tribunal  as contemplated by the Convention and that he should have never been  tried by a criminal court in this country.

He argued that his rights to a fair trial were violated as he was  prosecuted under the wrong statute. 

“If you argue that anyone who  fights against his government is a terrorist, everyone who fought for  liberation in South Africa would then be a terrorist,” he said.

He said he was merely embroiled in an armed conflict against the  Nigerian government and said the people who died and were injured  during the two bombings, were mainly members of the Nigerian security  forces.

Okah is the leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger  Delta (MEND).

Following his conviction, Okah turned to the Supreme Court of Appeal  in Bloemfontein, which overturned his convictions regarding the Warri  bombings. His sentence was reduced to 20 years imprisonment, but  following an appeal to the Constitutional Court by the prosecution,  that court reinstated the convictions and 24 year sentence. 

It also  dismissed Okah’s cross appeal that he should have been dealt with  under the Rome Statute.

Two more appeals by Okah to the high court and the SCA on technical  points also failed.

Judge Mavundla said Okah had exhausted his appeal rights as  his applications were dismissed by various courts. 

“An accused and  sentenced person cannot be allowed to seek to have a second bite of  the cherry, by seeking to have his conviction and sentence set aside
after he had already exhausted his appeal rights…”

Okah is being kept at Pretoria’s C-Max Prison as he is regarded  as a high risk prisoner. He was brought here earlier from the maximum  security prison in Kokstad in light of this application.


Pretoria News

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