Further delays in Okah bail hearing

Nigerian terrorism accused Henry Okah’s bail application was postponed again in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

Magistrate Hein Louw said he still needed to listen to transcribed portions of telephone recordings between Okah and his alleged co-conspirator in the October 1 Abuja bomb blasts before deciding whether to grant Okah bail.

The transcripts were supposed to have been completed over the weekend, but were not available by Monday as Louw had instructed. The bail application will now continue on Friday.

‘A matter beyond our control’
Okah has been in detention for 38 days, since his arrest at his Johannesburg home a day after the twin explosions in the Nigerian capital. He is charged with masterminding the attacks that killed 12 people during Independence Day celebrations.

His defence attorney, Rudi Krause, expressed “disappointment” on behalf of his client at the further delay.


State prosecutor Shaun Abrahams said that hoped for “a speedy resolution” to the bail application, but the situation with the delayed transcripts was “a matter beyond our control”.

As Louw delivered his reasons for the postponement, Okah turned around twice to smile at his wife, Azuka, who sat at the back of the courtroom with a Pick n Pay bag of goodies, intended for her husband, at her feet.

Azuka Okah declined to comment on the postponement.

The prosecution has previously argued that Okah is a terrorist and has opposed his bail application on the grounds that he is a dangerous man and could compromise public safety if released. But Krause has said the state cannot link Okah with the bomb blasts.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend), which has been fighting for greater control of the proceeds of Nigeria’s vast oil revenues since 2006, claimed responsibility for the October 1 attacks.

Okah is believed to be a former leader of Mend.

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Lionel Faull
Lionel Faull began his career as a journalist at the Mail & Guardian newspaper in South Africa before joining the country's pre-eminent non-profit investigations team, amaBhungane, in 2011. He has been working with Finance Uncovered since January 2017, joining as a full-time senior reporter a year later

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