Nigeria bomb suspect Okah talks of fight in diary

A diary entry by suspected Nigerian bombing conspirator Henry Okah, made about two weeks before deadly blasts in the capital, Abuja, talked about staging “a fight to the finish”, a Johannesburg court heard on Monday.

Okah, residing in South Africa and charged with conspiracy and terrorism over twin car bombings in Nigeria that killed at least 10, denied any links to the October 1 blasts. He took the stand at a bail hearing that entered its third day.

“We will fight to the finish,” he wrote in his diary on September 19. Okah acknowledged the diaries were his and he made the entry but said it had nothing to do with his involvement in the armed conflict in the Niger Delta.

South African prosecutors and police said Okah was the mastermind behind the bombings in Nigeria, which occurred during celebrations of 50 years of independence.

South African authorities seized the diaries and invoices for the purchases of large amounts of arms when they raided Okah’s home in Johannesburg at around the time of the blasts.

Other diary entries talk about weapons such as surface-to-air missiles, assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, military tactics, training camps, command structures and possible kidnapping.

“Your purpose in writing this down is to give guidance and assistance to the militants,” prosecutor Shaun Abrahams said.

Okah, suspected leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend), was arrested at his home in South Africa shortly after the blasts.

“I am not a fighter,” he told the court.

He described himself as a nothing more than a well-connected and interested observer who was expressing his shared concern for the people of the Delta when he made the diary entries.

“I hear of them [military attacks] after the fact. When something in the Niger Delta happens, I get calls.”

The attacks were claimed by Mend. Security experts believe Okah — who accepted a government amnesty last year after gun-running and treason charges against him were dropped — was at one time the brains behind Mend.

Okah said he had become a target of the Nigerian government because of his connections and they are trying to deflect blame on to him for the deaths.

Okah’s lawyer, Rudi Krause, told Reuters state prosecutors had yet to produce evidence linking Okah to the bombings.

“We don’t have any idea on what these charges are premised,” Krause said.

Prosecutors and police said Okah was in touch with the suspected bombers before and after the blasts.

On Sunday, a Nigerian security source said the secret service had arrested Okah’s brother a day after a warning was emailed to media that another bomb attack was planned for Abuja. — Reuters

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Jon Herskovitz
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