Henry Okah has been found guilty of masterminding the twin bomb attacks in Abuja on Independence Day.
The alleged mastermind of the October 1, 2010 bomb blast in Abuja, Henry Okah, now has three days to convince a South African Court to reduce a planned sentence after he was found guilty of the bombing.
Justice Neels Claassen of a Johannesburg High Court on Friday adjourned the pleading for mitigation of sentence in Henry Okah’s trial to February 28.
Mr. Okah was found guilty, on January 21, by the court of masterminding the bombing which caused deaths and injuries to several people.
His lawyer had told the court after the ruling that his client plans to call witnesses including Niger Delta leaders who would make a case for a reduced sentence for Mr. Okah. He also said the convict was willing to use his popularity in the Niger Delta to help restore peace to the oil rich area in Nigeria.
The judge said the adjournment to February 28 would be the final to allow all the witnesses called by Mr. Okah to testify in the pleading for mitigation of sentence to ensure that justice is done.
“I will grant you this request for the last time. I’m granting you three days from Feb. 28, March 1 and March 4, to call all your witnesses to testify in mitigation or aggravation of sentence.
“You have to ensure that all your witnesses appear in court in those three days, and if for any reason any of the witnesses fails to appear, the court will go ahead with the pronouncement of the sentence.
“I cannot entertain any further delay in this trial due to the nature of the case and its security implication to South Africa and Nigeria governments,’’ Mr. Claassen said.
Mr. Okah’s attorney requested the adjournment of hearing for mitigation of sentence to enable him produce in court all witnesses willing to testify on behalf of Mr. Okah.
The adjournment is also to allow Mr. Okah engage the Nigerian government in the peace process in Nigeria’s Niger Delta.
Mr. Okah, a factional leader of the Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, was convicted on January 21 by Justice Claassen.
Mr. Okah was found guilty on a 13-count charge of conspiracy to commit terrorism by masterminding two car bomb attacks in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, on October 1, 2010.
South Africa judiciary system, like most systems, allows convicted persons to plead for mitigation of sentence before the trial judge makes a pronouncement of sentence.
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