Independence Day Bombing: Okah Bags Life Sentence

Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High, Abuja late Wednesday sentenced Charles Okah and his accomplice, Obi Nwabueze to life imprisonment over their complicity in the October 1st, 2010 bomb blast near Eagle Square, Abuja.
The Judge handed down the sentences having found them guilty in 5 of the 8 count charge preferred against them by the Federal government.
The judgment which lasted about six hours has finally brought to an end litigations which started nearly eight years, with the trial Judge lamented the tortuous journeys the court went through in ensuing that justice is served.
Okah, Nwabueze, Edmund Ebiware and Tiemkemfa Francis-Osvwo (aka General Gbokos) were initially arraigned before the court on December 7, 2010 over their alleged involvement in the bomb blast which left about 12 people dead and several others injured.
However, Francis-Osvwo was said to have died in prison custody, while Ebiware, who had his trial conducted separately, is serving life sentence upon his conviction in 2013, leaving Okah and Nwabueze to face trial.
But delivering his judgment Wednesday, Kolawole held that the prosecution through the plethora of exhibits tendered and witnesses called was able to prove its case against the two defendants beyond reasonable doubts.
He said though the defendants called two witnesses including himself, while the second defendant called four, they were however unable to prove their innocence.
The Judge found the 1st defendant guilty on count 1 and 8 which borders on terrorism financing and perpetuating acts of terrorism in the October 1st bomb blast in Abuja, while Nwabueze was convicted on counts 5, 6 and 7 which relates to the March 15, 2010 twins bomb blast in Delta State government annex in Warri, Delta State.
Having found the defendants guilty of the charges, the court consequently sentenced them to life imprisonment.
The defendants are found guilty as charged in the five out of the eight-count charge contained in the amended charge dated 10 January, 2011 and filed January 11, 2011, which relate to them.
“They are accordingly convicted as charged,” Justice Kolawole held.
Reacting to the plea for clemency by Emeka Okoroafor and Oghenevo Otemu, counsel to the 1st and 2nd defendant respectively, Kolawole, said that the court was mindful to apply the maximum sentence as prescribed by the EFCC’s Act for the said offences, having earlier handed down a similar sentence to Ebiware in 2013.
The court also noted that to ensure justice is served in the eyes of those who injured, died or lost loved ones, owing to the dastardly act perpetuated by the defendants and dissuade others from similar act, the maximum punishment as prescribed by the law must be handed down.
Kolawole in citing the recent kidnap of 110 school girls from Dapchi town in Yobe, stressed that the judiciary cannot remain aloof to the increasing wave of violent crimes in the country.
In the cause of trial, the prosecuting counsel, Alex Izinyon (SAN) called 17 witnesses to prove that the defendants actually committed the offence.
Following the closure of the prosecution’s case, the defendants however filed a no-case-submission which was dismissed by Justice Kolawole on June 1st, 2017.
In dismissing the no-case-submission, the court held that, “the prosecution has made out prima facie case through testimonies of witnesses which linked the defendants with the charges, that requires them to offer explanation.
Consequently, the court ordered the defendants to open their defence on July 5, 2017.
On December 15, the defence team closed their case after calling 7 witnesses, including the 1st defendant.
After taking submissions of counsel, Justice Kolawole adjourned till March 7, for judgement.

Author: News Editor

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