Nigeria - South Africa

Former Mend chief Okah denies links with Abuja bomb suspects


Former Nigerian rebel leader Henry Okah took the stand in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court Friday to deny any involvement in the Abuja car bombings that killed a dozen people earlier this month.


The ex-leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or Mend, which claimed responsibility for the twin car bombings on 1 October, denied any links with nine people arrested in Nigeria in the aftermath of the attacks.

Three words: “not at all” summed up his response. Okah admitted he had the respect of Mend militants back home, but he insisted he has never met the nine.

His case has been postponed until Monday so the sate can prepare its cross examination.

Okah said he had lived legally in South Africa since being released from prison in Nigeria last year as part of an amnesty with Mend.

He maintains a telephone interview he did with the Al-Jazeera network took place with the knowledge of prison officials.

Authorities are furious about this and say it could cost Okah the bail he is seeking.
The state argues Okah is a dangerous man who will compromise public safety if released.

In support of this, they read excerpts of his diary, seized after his arrest one day after the Abuja bombs.


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