One of Nigeria’s oil militants, Henry Okah, has been charged in connection with the bomb attacks that took place in Abuja, the capital of the West African state of Nigeria. Okah, was arrested in Johannesburg, South Africa on Saturday. But he has since denied any links to the bomb attacks. More than 12 people were killed in the car bombings which coincided with the country’s 50th independence anniversary celebrations. Police in Nigeria have named two people: Chima Orlu and Ben Jessy, as suspects in the case but have not given any more details about the men. Okah is the leader of a militant faction opposed to a government amnesty for the oil-producing Niger Delta.
Immediately after his arrest, Okah was charged with engaging in terrorist activity and delivering or detonating explosives. He has been described by prosecutors as the mastermind of the Abuja bombings. In court, he was not asked to plead and said nothing except to greet his attorneys. His lawyers are saying he is innocent and that they will file an urgent appeal for him to be released on grounds of unlawful arrest. But he has been remanded in custody until his next appearance which has been set for October 14.
Discussions are on-going between the prosecution and defence as to whether Okah should be held at a more secure prison while he awaits his next appearance. Okah who has lived South Africa since 2003, returned there last year when he was released from almost two years in detention. He was arrested on gun-running charges in Angola in 2007 and then transferred to Nigeria but was never convicted.
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