SaharaReporters has exclusively obtained legal transcripts and judgments in the ongoing legal proceedings of Henry Okah in South Africa. Mr. Okah, widely believed to be the militant leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), was arrested in South Africa in 2013 and later convicted on charges of terrorism including bombings on Nigeria's Independence that killed at least twelve people on October 1st, 2010.
Earlier this week, when announcing their conditions of negotiation with the federal government, the latest militant group in Nigeria's South-south zone, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) listed the release of Mr. Okah as one of their demands.
Mr. Okah has denied any involvement with MEND as well as knowledge of the bombings of which he was convicted.
Mr. Okah’s attorney, Uriesi Idemudia, spoke with SaharaReporters and explained the reasons that the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa agreed to an indefinite postponement.
On November 26th, 2014 Mr. Idemudia challenged the jurisdiction of the Terrorism Act’s as it relates to Mr. Okah and “made only a small reference to the constitutionality” of the charges against him.
During a conversation between Appeal Court Justice Govern and a member of Mr. Okah’s legal team, Mr. Govern said “it seems to me from your concession [that the constitutional arguments for Mr. Okah] you have one of two options. One is to abandon the constitutional point because you conceded it has not been properly raised [in other courts] and the other is to ask for an adjournment [of the Appeal Court case] in order to raise it properly.”
Mr. Okah’s legal team agreed, from the conversation with the Justices, that it would be appropriate to adjourn their appeal case in order to pursue other constitutional arguments.
Mr. Idemudia told SaharaReporters that he is now tasked with elaborating on constitutional points in Mr. Okah’s defense outside the Court of Appeal.
He added that “we feel confident that we will succeed” in the next round of arguments because of the strength of the constitutional case for Mr. Okah. Mr. Idemudia also noted that the South African state has not yet filed their response to the decision to move the arguments to a court outside the Court of Appeal.
According to Mr. Idemudia told SaharaReporters that he anticipates Mr. Okah will gain his freedom following the August 24th 2016 hearing.