Business Day (SA)
25 August 2011
Trial will be a test of whether an act which gives South African courts jurisdiction to hear cases involving alleged perpetrators of terrorist activities committed elsewhere — will enable local courts to prosecute such crimes
NIGERIAN terror accused Henry Okah yesterday received his indictment, containing five counts, when his case was transferred from the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court to the South Gauteng High Court, where his trial will begin in January.
The trial will be a test of whether the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act — which gives South African courts jurisdiction to hear cases involving alleged perpetrators of terrorist activities committed elsewhere — will enable local courts to prosecute such crimes.
Although Mr Okah was in
Johannesburg when the crimes were committed in , the act allows for his prosecution in SA. Mr Okah faces two counts of engaging in terrorist activities, two counts of detonating explosive devices, and a count of attempting to cause harm to an internationally protected person. Nigeria
The counts relate to explosions that took place in Warri, where seven people were seriously injured in March last year, and in
Abuja, where seven people were killed and 31 injured during ’s 50th independence anniversary celebrations last October . Nigeria
Another count relates to Mr Okah’s alleged attempt to attack the Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan during the October celebrations .
In its summary of substantial facts, the state said Mr Okah was a leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend), a rebel militant organisation from the oil-rich Niger Delta region. The state says that in February, Mr Okah went to
and arranged for the purchase of two vehicles that were to be fitted with explosives. The vehicles were placed in front of Government House in Warri, where governors from several Nigerian states were expected. Nigeria
Due to the presence of security, the vehicles could not enter the facility. On March 15 last year, the two vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices exploded, killing one person.
In September last year, the state says Mr Okah conspired with Chima Orlu, his brother Charles Okah, and others to fit two vehicles with explosive devices .