October 1st Blast: Charles Okah and Obi Nwanbueze Get Life Imprisonment

Charles Okah and Obi Nwanbueze have been sentenced to life imprisonment by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday over the October 1, 2010 Independence Day bombing at Eagles Square, Abuja.

The court headed by Justice Gabriel Kolawole held that Okah, a younger brother to former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Henry Okah, and his accomplice, Nwabueze, used dynamites to unleash acts of terrorism on Nigerians and foreign dignitaries who had gathered at the Eagle Square for the occasion.

Recall that this act of terrorism killed twelve people at the Eagles Square in Abuja.

In his judgment on the 8-count terrorism charge filed by the federal government against the convicts which has lasted for seven years, Justice Kolawole held that both the documentary and oral evidence adduced by the prosecuting counsel linked Okah and Nwabueze to the Independence Day bombing at the Eagles Square.

The judge said, “The defendants are found guilty as charged in the five, out of the eight-count charge, contained in the amended charge dated 10 January, 2011 and filed on January 11, 2011, which relates to them.

They are accordingly convicted as charged”. Dismissing the convicts’ plea for clemency, the judge agreed with the prosecuting counsel, Dr Alex Iziyon (SAN) who had urged it to discountenance the convicts’ allocutus (plea for mercy), saying, “The convicts are hereby sentenced to life imprisonment”.

The Okah brothers were alleged to have coordinated as well as procured all the materials that were used for the attack. The federal government told the court that it was the 2nd defendant, Nwabueze, who helped them to fix Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in two cars it said were used for the bombing. Whereas the federal government called a total of 17 witnesses that testified before the court, Okah and Nwabueze who had earlier denied their alleged involvement in the terrorist attack called three witnesses each to establish their innocence. One of the alleged masterminds of the bombing incident, Osvwo Tekemfa Francis, a.k.a ‘General-Gbokos’, died in prison custody, while the High Court, in a separate trial, sentenced the 3rd accused person, Edmund Ebiware, to life imprisonment.

All the defendants were initially arraigned before the High Court on December 7, 2010 and subsequently re-arraigned on January 12, 2011. Adopting its final address on yesterday, the federal government insisted that the proof of evidence it adduced before the court was sufficient to secure the conviction of the defendants. It maintained that oral and documentary evidence that were tendered by the prosecution connected the defendants to the October 1, 2010 bomb blast.

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