Henry Okah, leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has rejected the dismissal of his appeals by the Constitutional Court of South Africa, where he had been convicted for terrorism, and has instructed his lawyers to seek redress at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
In a letter written from Kokstad Prison, Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa, Mr. Okah said he was informed of the dismissal of his appeals on Friday by his lawyer, Mr. Idemudia Uriesi. He stated that he had high hopes that South Africa's highest court would remedy the injustice he went through at the trial stage.
"I totally disagree with the ruling of the South African Constitutional Court, which ruling sidestepped pertinent questions posed to the court by my legal representatives and have therefore instructed my laWyers tö seek redress at the International Court of Justice. "My lawyers are in complete agreement with my position on the ruling by South Africa's highest court in this matter," said Mr.Okah.
According to him, the apex South African court ruled different statutes may be applied to different parties to the same conflict, an outcome Mr. Okah said is discriminatory.
"The situation in the Niger Delta is a conflict as defined by International Human Law (IHL), the internationally accepted body of legislation for adjudicating conflict situations. Therefore, prosecuting a party to a conflict in a foreign country under the South African Anti-Terrorism Act, where the same statute is inapplicable to other parties to that same conflict is, in my opinion, illogical, and in fact, absurd," he said.
He explained that the South African Anti-Terrorism Act defines terrorism as "any act committed in or outside the Republic", which involves the systematic, repeated or arbitrary use of violence by any means or method,
"It is therefore little wonder that in my sentencing, the trial judge alluded to Mr.Nelson Mandela and the leaders of the Africa National Congress (ANC) as terrorists in their prosecution of the South African armed struggle against Apartheid. The South African armed struggle against Apartheid and that undertaken by MEND are not dissimilar in substance.
"Even more shocking and without outcry is the continued imprisonment as common criminals in South African prisons of soldiers for liberation armies, who had been captured by the Apartheid government almost a quarter of a century after
'independence' in South Africa. Freedom fighters in South Africa are regarded in South African law as terrorists despite the victory against Apartheid having ostensibly been attained through violent means," stated Mr. Okah.
He described the ruling of the apex South African court as establishing the country as the "policeman" of Africa. The MEND leader also described the country's courts as the satellite courts for foreign governments involved in civil conflict with their civilian population. This, he said, connotes interference in the internal affairs of other countries and in the legitimate resistance mounted by oppressed people. He stated that the conduct of the South African judiciary is an insult to Nigerians and Niger Delta agitators, adding that it may spark upheaval across the continent.
Mr. Okah also stated that it was irrelevant to his appeals whether or not he was afforded internationally guaranteed rights and that he was not informed of such rights at the time of his arrest. He explained that Nigerian government, in harness with its South African counterpart, denied him access to his witnesses, while prosecution witnesses were brought to South Africa and accommodated at the expense of the Nigerian government. He wondered if that could not have affected the outcome of his trial.
'Every Nigerian is aware that I am imprisoned in South Africa at the insistence of the Nigerian government in cahoots with western nations plundering the resources of the Niger Delta. MTN Nigeria was instrumental in my capture in 2010 and for this, some personalities in South Africa were rewarded with oil blocks jn the Escrovas area, which are presently operated by a South African registered company named SACOIL. "MTN South Africa also provided a witness who testified falsely at my trial, using fabricated evidence. I was informed that numerous payments disguised as donations were made by former President Goodluck Jonathan to one of ex-president Jacob Zuma's wives, who was a frequent visitor to the State House in Abuja," claimed the MEND leader.
He equally claimed that on September 5 2014, Mujahid Asari-Dokubo (nee Melford Goodhead), whom he described as a known political thug from the Niger Delta region, was arrested at the Lanseria Airport in Pretoria with $10 million he was asked by former President Jonathan to give to Mr. Zuma.
"What sort of country is Nigeria where criminals such as Goodluck Jonathan who ought to be imprisoned along with past leaders and recycled corrupt politicians have the effrontery to aspire to rule Nigeria? We will be a nation of idiots to accept such nonsense.
"Goodluck Jonathan sneaked into South Africa about three weeks ago where he desperately pleaded with Mr. Zuma just before he was 'recalled' by the ANC, to ensure my continued internment in this country at any cost," he claimed.
Mr. Okah said the verdict of the court, "I do not believe that the ruling of the constitutional court was influenced more by emotion and political considerations rather than by reason and good judgment. He added that he supported the aspiration of President Buhari in 2015 because he believed the President could alter the trajectory of the country." However, Mr. Okah said he has discovered that his hope was unfounded.
He called on all Nigerians to unite and rescue the country from the grip of criminals in leadership positions.
"A united Nigeria possesses the potential to ascend to great heights under good leadership. We must all unite to reject selfish attempts by individuals or sectors of our society to fragment our country," he said.
He alleged that he has been maltreated in prison by the South African government which, he said, forged virtually all the documents used in his trial.
"I have been assaulted, electrocuted, denied sunlight and possibly poisoned in the last four years. For four years I have been fed with two slices of bread for breakfast, five slices for lunch, and five for dinner. Despite being seriously ill, I have been denied access to a doctor and have been forced to live with a growth in my throat and severe abdominal pains for the last one year but such inhuman treatment will never dampen my resolve nor kill my fighting spirit.
As a rule, I leave no business unfinished and will fight to the end for what I believe in even if the end is death," he said defiantly.