Convicted mastermind of October 1, 2010 bombing in Abuja maybe on his way out of jail if current efforts pull through.
There are indications that Nigeria may have started talking with the South African government on the possible release of convicted bomber and leader of Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), Henry Okah.
Indications to this emerged after it was understood that some close associates of the convict had made moves to get the South African government to release Okah on amnesty, in reciprocation of role the group played in the election victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Though no official confirmation from the Federal Government was possible as at press time, a source close to government who is aware of the development, said there were actually subtle moves to get Okah out of prison. “Yes, what is wrong with that?” our source asked when contacted. He also did not debunk allegation that the move was to reciprocate MEND for its role in the APC election victory.
The UNION understands that a stalwart off the All Progressives Congress (APC), who had been a strong influence in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) prior to his defection, may be working on the project. According to our source, the APC stalwart is said to be using his contacts within the South African government, to get President Jacob Zuma to accede to the project.
The UNION learnt that a series of meetings had been held with representatives of the South African government towards working out a suitable ground for Okah’s impending release. Part of consideration, The UNION learnt, was how to effect the release without drawing ire of the international community, which strongly terrorism.
It would be recalled that Okah was found guilty on January 21, 2013 of masterminding the October 1, 2010 bomb attack on Abuja which claimed 12 lives and left 36 others with serious injuries. Okah, who was arrested in Johannesburg, South Africa, was accused of masterminding the attack.
He however denied involvement in the 50th Independence Anniversary bombing, though his group, the MEND, claimed responsibility. He was handed a 24 year jail term by Judge Nels Claassen who said “I have come to the conclusion that the state proved beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of the accused.
The evidence of all the accomplices that worked with him was not contradicted. I found that he is leader, planner, funder, supplier of car bombs used in Warri in March 2010 and on October 1 2010”.
MEND had prior to the March 28 presidential election, thrown its weight behind then opposition APC citing unfair treatment by the PDP. MEND spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo, had said that the group fully supported Buhari after careful study of the state of the nation. “We are confident that a General Mohammadu Buhari presidency would probe government agencies and divert all stolen revenue back to the development of the region and Nigeria as a whole”, Mr. Gbomo had stated.
Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, while campaigning for re-election as Nigeria’s president, had also raised concern, at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos, that Okah’s MEND endorsed the APC candidate. “Now the same Okah who is in jail abroad is now endorsing some people through his group. Is this the kind of Nigeria you want where a group like MEND will be endorsing party candidates?” he had asked.
Leader of the Niger-Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, had while commenting on the growth and terror tactics of MEND said: “Henry Okah, if he asks for money and you don’t give him, he attacks you. He asked Goodluck Jonathan when he was Governor of Bayelsa State to share the budget and give him 5% of the budget of Bayelsa.
Every month, 5% of what they received must be given to them to service the boys. And Jonathan said no. Henry Okah invaded Government House with his boys, some of the people who are now claiming to support Jonathan invaded Government House, destroyed Government House. My people ran away with Goodluck as Governor.
They went to Otueke, burn t down his country home in Otueke, thinking he was there. The Governor ran”. Prior to his conviction in Before the South African, Okah had been arrested in Angola and deported to Nigeria in February 2008, and charged with 62 counts of treason, terrorism, illegal possession of firearms and arms trafficking”.