Nigerian Militant Leader, Henry Okah Convicted in South Africa on Terrorism
A South African court convicted Nigerian militant leader Henry Okah on 13 counts of terrorism, including a bomb attack that killed 12 people, a spokeswoman for the National Prosecuting Authority said.
Okah will be sentenced at the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Jan. 31, spokeswoman Phindi Louw said in a phone interview today. Okah refused to testify in court, leaving evidence against him uncontested, she said.
Okah was found guilty of planning car bomb attacks in 2010 in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, close to where President Goodluck Jonathan was celebrating Nigeria’s 50 years of independence. South African law allows trials of alleged terrorists arrested or resident in the country no matter where their alleged acts were committed.
The Abuja bombing was claimed by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, the main rebel group in the southern Niger River delta, which is home to the country’s oil and gas industry. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer and the fifth-biggest source of U.S. oil imports.
Nigeria’s government accuses Okah of being the leader of MEND, which said it was fighting for a greater share of oil revenue for the region. Thousands of fighters have since dropped their weapons and accepted a government amnesty.
Nigerian Minister of Information Labaran Maku and presidential spokesman Reuben Abati didn’t immediately respond to phone calls and text messages seeking comment.
While Okah has denied being involved in the Abuja blasts and leading MEND, he has said he commands the support of many armed groups in Nigeria’s oil region.