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Terrorism Charge: Okah Opens Defence


Charles Okah, who is accussed of masterminding the October 1, 2010, Eagle Square, Abuja, bombing, Wednesday, opened his defence.
A Federal High Court in Abuja, had on June 1, 2017, dismissed Okah’s no case submission in the terrorism charge filed against him by the Federal Government.
At Wednesday’s sitting Okah called his first defence witness.
Charles is the younger brother to the ex-leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Henry Okah, who is serving life sentence in South Africa jail.
Okah, Nwabueze, Edmund Ebiware and Tiemkemfa Francis-Osvwo (aka General Gbokos) were first arraigned before the court on Dec. 7, 2010 over their alleged involvement in the blast which left about 12 people dead and several others injured.
The court had earlier sentenced their co-accused, Edmund Ebiware, to life imprisonment, when he pleaded guilty to the charges, while the fourth defendant, Tekemfa Francis-Osvwo died in prison.
While led in evidence by the defence counsel, Samuel Zibiri, the first defence witness, Elizabeth Okoye, who is a civil servant, Wednesday, told the court that she had worked with the defendant for 10 years before he was arrested.
She told the court under cross examination by the prosecution counsel, Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN) that for the 10 years she spent as a cook and nanny to Okah before she left for public service, there were only two cars usually parked in Okah’s compound.
The defence witness said, there was never a time that any auto mechanic came to Okah’s compound to work on any of the two cars,
Asked whether she saw a welder, by name Umoren Bassey in the compound doing welding work on the cars for four days, the witness, who said she could see any car that enters Okah’s compound as the location of her room answered in the negative.
During re-examination, defence counsel. Samuel Zibiri (SAN) asked the witness whether she was arrested by operatives of the State Security Services (SSS) or interrogated, the witnesse told the court that she was not arrested and that she was only interrogated.
Okorie further told the court that, the SSS operatives, who stormed Okah’s compound with guns carried her along to conduct search on the first defendant’s house on November 16, 2010.
After the re-examination, Zibiri made an oral submission for an order of the court allowing defence counsel have access to the defendants who are remanded at the Kuje prison in Abuja every Saturday.
Zibiri, who said the defence may likely call 15 witnesses in the matter, prayed the court to order the prison authorities to allow defence counsel have 3 to 5 hours audience with the defendants every Saturday.
Izinyon, who did not raise any objection to the application expressed the fear that the defendants may abuse the order if made by the court.
In a brief ruling, the trial Judge, Justice Kolawole ordered the prison authorities to allow defence counsel access to the defendants between the hours of 12 noon to 4 pm every Saturday and adjourned the matter till October 11, 2017.
Recalled that Okah and his co-defendant had filled a no-case submission, asking the court to dismiss the charges slammed against them by the Federal Government, a request the court dismissed.
In his ruling on the no-case application by the duo, Justice Kolawole, ordered them to open their defence in the charges against them as the prosecution succeeded in linking them to the alleged offence.
Okah and his co-defendants were charged on December 6, 2010 on an amended 8 counts charge bothering on terrorism.
After several interlocutory applications, on April 23, 2015, trial began with the prosecution counsel calling 17 witnesses.

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