. To be examined by 3 psychiatrists
Proceedings in the trial of Charles Okah, a suspended mastermind of the 2010 Independence Day bombing has been adjourned to April 2 by an Abuja High Court.
The decision taken by the court on Wednesday is to enable three psychiatrists to re-evaluate the mental health of the accused person on order to determine whether he is fit to stand trial or not.
Psychiatrists became involved in the case when Okah’s lawyers argued that with his mental state, he was not fit to stand trial.
Okah was on a wheelchair in the last few court appearances and he seems to have lost some weight. He often makes some weird gestures during proceedings.
Prosecutors have however argued that Okah is fit to stand trial and is only pretending to be mentally unstable.
On January 15, Justice Gabriel Kolawole ordered further evaluation of Okah’s mental health after his lawyer, John Ainetor, and prosecution counsel, Dr. Alex Izinyon, SAN, disagreed over the report of the initial assessment conducted by the National Hospital, Abuja.
The judge directed the two parties to return on Wednesday to consider the report of the fresh evaluation, which would determine whether the trial would proceed.
Hearing was however not held on Wednesday, though Okah and Obi Nwabueze, another accused were brought to court. Prosecution and defence counsels were called to a meeting in the judge’s chambers.
After the meeting, Dr. Izinyon disclosed to journalists that the case was adjourned to April 2 so that a team of three experts could further examine Okah.
He explained that the closed-door meeting between the judge and the counsel was informed by national security considerations.
Justice Kolawole had ordered that Okah should undergo a psychiatric re-evaluation at the National Hospital Abuja after an argument over the initial report of the accused person’s mental state.
The judge ordered that the fresh evaluation should be carried out by two or three psychiatrists, and that the report must be written in a simple language devoid of ambiguous medical terminologies, which could be easily understood by the ‘lay man.’
Justice Kolawole explained that a re-evaluation was necessitated by the contradictions in the initial report. He said “the (initial) report concluded that the accused person (Okah) is fit to stand trial but when certain aspects of the report are read, one finds it’s a bit uneasy. An accused person must by law be certified to be mentally fit throughout his trial. The charges against the accused person are weighty and not such that the court would be seen to be in undue hurry. In this case I have decided to make haste slowly”.