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.

Independence Day Bombing: Charles Okah’s Trial Continues

The trial of the alleged mastermind of October 1, 2010 bomb blast, Charles Okah continued on Monday, with the prosecution seeking to affix a stamp on an evidence already before the court.

The prosecution counsel, Alex Izinyon, told the court on Monday that his client would like to affix a stamp on the evidence alluded to by the first prosecution witness, John Afolabi, in April 2015.

Mr. Okah is facing trial for allegedly being behind the October, 1 2010 bomb blast which occurred at the Eagle Square, Abuja and resulted in the death of over a dozen people.

The prosecution has also alleged that the bomb blast was intended to kill the former president, Goodluck Jonathan.

Mr. Izinyon told the court on Monday that his client intends to regularise the said document by affixing the requisite stamp.

He noted that the document contains a list of items alluded to by Mr. Afolabi

Reacting to the application,  however,  the defence counsel, Oghene Otemo said the document intended to be regularised  has been in court for a long time, and that his team had addressed the court on the failure of the prosecution to affix a stamp on the said document.

“The application of the Prosecution Counsel is alien and unknown to law. It is unknown to the criminal procedure of Nigeria. Granting the application will amount to mistrial of the defendant.

“Granting of application upon presented facts, at this stage of the case, will orchestrate a serious miscarriage of justice. It is an abuse of court process,” Mr. Otemo said.

The trial of the accused has reached an advanced stage. Following the court’s decision for Mr. Okah to begin his defence, earlier in 2017, the defendant ended the defence in December 2017.

The trial judge, Gabriel Kolawole adjourned the matter till February 21 for ruling on the prosecution’s application.

FG Has Agreed To Release Kanu, Okah Brothers Towards End Of Hostilities – MEND

THE Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said on Saturday that it had reached an agreement with the Federal Government for the conditional release of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, and former MEND leader, Henry Okah.

The militant group in the Niger Delta disclosed that the Federal Government also agreed that Okah’s younger brother, Charles, and Obi Nwabueze would be granted conditional freedom.

MEND in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo, said the agreement was reached after the Aaron Team representatives from Abia and Imo States, Senator Adolphus Wabara, made a proposal for their freedom.

The condition given by the Federal Government was that Kanu and his cohorts would renounce the agitation for the Republic of Biafra.

The statement read, “Thus far, the deliberations have been fruitful. Various concessions and guarantees have already been secured; some of which include, but are not limited to: release of Henry Okah, Charles Okah, and Obi Nwabueze, review of the life sentence handed to Mr. Edmund Ebiware based on a proposal put forward by the Aaron Team representative for Abia and Imo states, Senator Adolphus Wabara, conditional release of IPOB Leader, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu and others if they renounce their agitation for a ‘Biafra Republic.’

“That Mr. Government Ekpemupolo shall not be arrested, harassed and/or intimidated whenever he makes himself available as a delegate of the MEND Aaron Team 2; that international arbitrator and conflict negotiator, American Dr. Judith Asuni, shall be accepted as the representative of the Niger Delta Avengers on the MEND Aaron Team.

“That the criminal charges against Urhobo freedom fighter, Mr. Kelvin Prosper Oniarah, shall be reviewed; that the life sentence, which was handed to seven soldiers in 2008, who actively supported the Niger Delta struggle be reviewed under the Presidential Amnesty Programme.

“The affected persons are: Major Suleiman Akubo; Sgt Mathias Peter; L.Cpl Alexander Davou; L.Cpl Moses Nwaigwe, L.Cpl Nnandi Anene; L.Cpl Taatihi Emmanuel; and Caleb Bawa.”

The militant group noted that one of the most immediate fallouts of the ongoing dialogue was that the Federal Government and MEND should jointly and separately take proactive steps to rescue and secure the region in the event that the Niger Delta Avengers continued with their “senseless and politically-motivated” path of attacks on the country’s oil assets.

MEND added, “To this end, both parties agreed that the Special Forces of the Nigerian Army should commence the purely routine, but strategic military exercise code-named ‘Operation Crocodile Tears’ while MEND would commence a meet-the-Government-Actors-and-People tour of the Niger Delta region code-named ‘Operation Moses.’”

Meanwhile, the Acting Director, Defence Information, Brig.-Gen. Rabe Abubakar, said that all issues relating to negotiation were political and being handled by the political leadership of the country.

He stated however that any step that would bring peace to the area was welcome.

He stressed that the military would continue to maintain its presence not only in the Niger Delta but also in other threatened spots in the country.

He said, “The ongoing negotiation is clearly a political issue. The military would continue to maintain total presence in any security-threatened location, not only in the Niger Delta.

“And that is what we are doing in any other area with security issues like the North East and North Central.

“Anything that would bring peace is a welcome development. Negotiation is completely a political solution by our political leaders, it doesn’t involve us.

“However, the military would continue to maintain a high level of presence to ensure that security of lives of properties are maintained.”