The Presidency has commended the South African Supreme Court of Appeal’s decision of October 3, confirming the conviction of Mr. Henry Okah of twenty years in prison; having found him guilty on two out of the six-counts charges relating to bomb explosions in Warri, Delta State.
The court also upheld the 12-year sentence for his role in the Abuja bombing. The convictions that were upheld are those in respect of the Warri bombing, relating to Okah’s providing finance and equipment without which the bombing would not have been executed.
A presidency official who spoke on the condition of anonymity told State House correspondents that the Nigerian government had written “a measured letter” to the South African government, hailing the judicial decision as a big step forward towards removing terrorism from the continent.
The source said: “South Africa has projected itself an enduring partner to Nigeria in the war against terrorism. When African countries act jointly against terrorism, they send out clear and unambiguous signals that there is no more a place for terrorism on our continent.”
The court held that Okah provided more than N2 million to three individuals for the purpose of acquiring vehicles and explosives for use in the Warri bombing.
On the Abuja bombing, the court upheld Okah’s conviction for conspiring, planning and instructing people in relation to its execution while he was in South Africa. The court therefore held that exemption clause on extra-territorial application could not apply as Okah orchestrated the Abuja bombing while in South African territory.
The Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa, by this judgment has effectively reduced the 12-year sentence for Warri bombing to eight (8) years but maintaining the 12–year sentence for the Abuja bombing, making the period 20 years all together as against the 24 years ruling by a lower court.
The presidency source said the latest judgment was a victory for the fight against terrorism in all its form and shape, which should be hailed by all well-meaning Nigerians and citizens of the world.
He said: “The South African authorities are therefore, urged to ensure that Mr. Okah is made to face the full wrath of the law for his acts of international terrorism. The scourge of terrorism, as perpetrated by the Boko Haram terrorists and the so-called ‘Niger Delta Avengers or militants’, has led to the death of several Nigerians and the monumental destruction of national assets.”
Okah was granted permanent residency in South Africa in 2007, and was arrested in Johannesburg on October 2, 2010.
A spokesman of the President, Mr. Garba Shehu, confirmed that the Presidency viewed the conviction positively as serious signal in cleansing Nigeria of terrorism.