Nigerian former militant leader Henry Okah was a dangerous man and could compromise public safety if released on bail, the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court heard on Friday.
“If he’s released he could disturb public peace and security,” state prosecutor Shaun Abrahams told the court.
Reading from an affidavit submitted by the state to oppose bail, he said Okah was still an active leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (Mend).
If released Okah, with his connections and money, could “intimidate or eliminate witnesses” who were known to him.
“We will have to pay off many people,” read an extract from Okah’s diary.
The diary was included as evidence against the 45-year-old father of four.
“Mobilise our men, we leave today with God on our side,” Abrahams read from the diary.
The state would oppose bail for Okah on grounds including the fact that he was likely to endanger other people, he was extremely wealthy and connected, and that he had allegedly misrepresented his business affairs to the country’s home affairs department.
The state alleged that Okah undermined the criminal justice system when he was interviewed by television station al-Jazeera while awaiting his bail application in prison. Police had not authorised the interview.
‘I challenge the state to give evidence linking me to the crime’
In his affidavit, Okah denied any involvement in the October 1 dual car bombing that claimed 12 lives in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.
“I am innocent and I challenge the state to give evidence linking me to the crime,” his lawyer, Rudi Krause, read from the 32-page document.
He was arrested in Johannesburg a day after the attacks, after being identified as being “the mastermind behind the bombings”.
Mend claimed responsibility for the attacks, but denied Okah had been involved.
A former marine engineer, Okah said although he sympathised with the struggle of the poor in the oil-rich Nigeria, he had never involved himself in any violence.
He faces charges of engaging in terrorist activities, conspiracy to engage in terrorist activity, and delivering, placing and detonating an explosive device.
He currently holds permanent residency in South Africa and earns a living through his security company. — Sapa