South African Court Reduces Henry Okah’s Sentence | Independent Newspapers Limited
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South African Court Reduces Henry Okah’s Sentence

Posted: Oct 4, 2016 at 4:15 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has reduced Nigerian terrorist Henry Okah’s sentence from 24 years to 20 years after finding that the court did not have jurisdiction to try him on some of the counts, reports South African Times.

It also found that the state did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that Okah made threats against South African companies in Nigeria in 2012 as he was in prison.

Okah‚ who was granted permanent residency status in South Africa in 2007‚ was arrested in Johannesburg on October 2‚ 2010 and charged with 13 counts under the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act.

The Act enables extra-territorial prosecution of criminal offences comprising acts of terrorism and related activities.

The first 12 counts were related to bombings that occurred in Nigeria at the Government House Annex in Warri on March 15, 2010 and Eagle Square‚ Abuja on October 1, 2010.

The bombings resulted in the deaths of 12 people and 64 people were severely injured.

Count 13 alleged that Okah had threatened certain South African entities commercially active in Nigeria with destabilising terrorist activities.

The high court in Johannesburg sentenced Okah to serve 12 years for the bombing in Warri‚ 12 years for the bombing in Abuja and 10 years for making threats.

The 10-year sentence was to run concurrently with the two 12-year sentences‚ meaning Okah would spend 24 years behind bars.

The high court found Okah was the leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta‚ a guerrilla movement that claimed responsibility for attacks on oil companies operating in the region.

The SCA set aside the conviction on count 13. The SCA found that Okah conspired‚ planned and instructed people in relation to the execution of the bombing in Abuja whilst in South Africa.

“Simply put‚ there is no need in relation to these counts to examine the ambit of the extra-territorial application of the Act because he orchestrated the Abuja bombing from within the Republic of South Africa.”

The court said Okah was arrested in South Africa and charged locally for acts he committed within the country and a domestic court would obviously have jurisdiction.

“In respect of these counts‚ the convictions by the court below must therefore also remain in stead.”

The court said on the bombing in Warri‚ two count remained intact because Okah provided more than two million Nigerian naira to three individuals for the purposes of acquiring and adapting vehicles and to purchase explosives for use in the Warri bombing.

“The appellant was arrested in the Republic of South Africa and the bombing was essentially perpetrated by him‚ being a person ordinarily resident within the Republic.”

It said that conviction could not be faulted on the basis of lack of jurisdiction. “In respect of an appropriate sentence‚ it is necessary to bear in mind that these counts involved the appellant providing finance and equipment without which the bombing would not have been executed.”

It reduced the 12-year sentence for the Warri bombing to eight years. The 12-year sentence for the Abuja bombing remained in place.