Henry Okah’s conviction a lesson to terrorists — Aturu, others

Henry Okah Two lawyers, Mr Bamidele Aturu and Mr Fred Agbaje, on Monday described the conviction of Henry Okah by a South African court as a lesson to terrorists that there is no hiding place for terrorists.

They spoke in interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, just as the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) also said the conviction was a wake-up call for Nigeria to step up the fight against terror.

A South African court on Monday found Okah guilty of master-minding the 2010 car bombings which killed 12 people in Abuja.

Okah was convicted of all the 13 counts related to the offence.

“It clearly showed that there is no tolerance the world over for terrorism.

“The world is so small that those who intend to commit crimes must factor that in,’’ Aturu, a human rights lawyer, told NAN.

On whether South Africa could still extradite Okah, Aturu said that Okah would serve his jail term in South Africa except Nigeria had a treaty with South Africa on exchange of prisoners.

Also speaking, Agbaje described the conviction as a pointer that those who committed crimes in Nigeria and ran must be caught no matter where they ran to.

He said that although Okah had a right to appeal the judgment, it showed that the rule of law in South Africa had some meaningful reasons to have convicted the Nigerian.

“The court could not have convicted him if there were no facts,’’ the constitutional lawyer said.

In his reaction, the Lagos State Chairman of the CLO, Mr Ehi Omokhuale, told NAN that the only sad thing about Okah’s conviction was that “charity which should have begun from home, began from outside Nigeria.

“It is shameful that those who escape justice in Nigeria are brought to book outside the country,’’ the CLO chairman said.

NAN reports that Okah, who lives in Johannesburg, was arrested on Oct. 2, 2010, a day after twin car bombs exploded in Abuja during the 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence and charged to court days after.

He had denied the charges, although the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), a militant group he was alleged to led, said it had carried out the attack.

A Johannesburg High Court Judge, Neels Claassen, however, convicted Okah on charges ranging from conspiracy to commit terrorism to detonating explosives.

The judge set Jan. 31 for sentencing of Okah.

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