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Okah: Trial May

April 2, 2008
Saharareporters has learned that Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister for Justice Michael Aondoakaa has obtained an ex-parte order to commence the trial in secrecy of Henry Okah, the recently extradited leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).

Justice Binta Murtala Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja issued the ex-parte order on March 12, 2008.  

Documents available to Saharareporters indicate that in Suit Number FHC/ABJ/CR/178/2007, the court order listed the Federal Republic of Nigeria as Complainant/Applicant while Henry Imomotimi Okah and Edward Oritsegbubemi Atatah were listed as 1st and 2nd accused persons.
The ex-parte order allows the Federal Government to embark on the trial of Henry Okah and Edward Atatah in camera for reasons that the court determined as "National Security and Safety of Personnel." The order also granted the trial judge discretion to determine the venue of the trial as well as to limit press coverage of the proceedings.

Barrister Femi Falana, who is Okah's lawyer, has described the order as making nonsense of the "rule of law" posture of the Umar Yar’adua government. Speaking to Saharareporters from Dakar, Senegal where he was attending a conference, Falana said, "Even in the days of military dictatorship under General Sanni Abacha, Ken Saro-Wiwa was not tried in camera.” He vowed to resist the secret trial of Mr. Okah and Mr. Atatah with all the legal instruments at his disposal.

Saharareporters was first to reveal the plot to have some Niger Delta militants serve as government witnesses against Okah. Our earlier reports revealed the decision by many Niger Delta leaders to sacrifice Okah after secretly accepting a sweet deal of contracts and other government patronage to work with the Yar'adua government.

A reliable source told Saharareporters that members of the so-called "peace committee" that had been attending meetings with Yar'adua in Abuja were handsomely rewarded two weeks ago when the Federal Government approved big sums of money to be paid to them through the Rivers State government.

With the ex-parte order obtained by the attorney general, Okah’s secret trial may have started under the nose of Jonathan Goodluck, Yar'adua's vice who was initially engaged in a fake dialogue with Okah from his South Africa base.

Okah was arrested in Angola and sent to Nigeria to face treason charges. Since their repatriation to Nigeria, Okah and Atatah have been kept in a military facility, solitary confinement, in the Northern part of Nigeria and largely kept away from family and legal representatives.

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