S.Africa to charge Nigeria terror suspect with Warri bombing
South Africa plans to charge Henry Okah, the accused mastermind of Nigeria's deadly independence day blasts, with another bomb attack in the Nigerian city of Warri, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Okah, a Nigerian national with permanent residence in South Africa, has been in custody since he was arrested at his Johannesburg home on October 2, the day after twin car bombs killed 12 people at celebrations in Abuja to mark the 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence from Britain.
Prosecutors say they now plan to bring additional terrorism charges against him in connection with two explosions on March 15 last year in the southern Nigerian city of Warri, a major hub of the country’s oil-rich Delta region.
“Those charges relate to the Warri bombings,” lead prosecutor Shaun Abrahams told AFP.
“It relates to the act of terrorism and conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism.”
Prosecutors say Okah is the leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), a militant group in the Delta region that claimed responsibility for both the independence day attacks and the twin car bombs in Warri.
South Africa’s move to lay new charges comes after Nigeria’s intelligence agency in November accused Okah of orchestrating the Warri blasts, which rocked the city during talks on an amnesty for former rebel fighters and killed at least one person.
Okah, who is fighting for his release but has twice been denied bail, says he has never been the leader of MEND and denies any link to the independence day blasts.
Okah’s wife said Tuesday he also denies any involvement in the Warri attacks.
Okah appeared briefly in a Johannesburg court Monday. His case was postponed to June 21 for further investigation.
Nigeria on Saturday held a landmark presidential election that saw President Goodluck Jonathan, the country’s first leader from the Delta region, declared the winner with 57 percent of the vote.
The poll led to deadly rioting in the mainly Muslim north, exposing regional tensions in Africa’s most populous country.