Abuja Independence Day bombing: Lack of psychiatric report stalls Okah’s trial

Henry Okah

Henry Okah is being accused of masterminding the twin bombings that occurred on October 1, 2010.

The non-availability of a psychiatric report to ascertain the mental state of the man charged with masterminding the October 1, 2010 bombing, Charles Okah, Wednesday, stalled his trial before Justice Gabriel Kolawole of a Federal High Court.

Mr. Okah and Obi Nwabueze are charged with being masterminds of the October 1, 2010 bombing at the Eagle Square, Abuja. Several people died in the explosion.

When the case came up on Wednesday, parties were informed that the reports of fresh medicals which the judge ordered to be conducted on Mr. Okah at the last sitting were not ready.

The initial report read in part: Okah suffers from “psychotic depression, fatigues disorder and auditory/visual hallucinations”.

The said report, dated January 9, was signed by a Senior Consultant Psychiatrist with the National Hospital, O. T. Ephraim Oluwanuga.

The lead prosecution counsel, Alex Iziyon, had earlier told the court that based on the initial report, Mr. Okah was fit to stand trial. He urged the court to go on with the trial.

Justice Kolawole had observed that the report contained some medical terms, which even he could hardly comprehend. He then ordered fresh medical examination be conducted at the National Hospital, Abuja, by two or three psychiatrists, who must jointly sign the report.

He further directed that the report should be written in common English language that can easily be understood by a layman and submitted to the court three days before February 5.

The judge held that it was the position of the law that an accused person must be medically fit to stand trial. He said the case against the accused person was weighty and attracts severe punishment.

He said although the court’s rules require that criminal cases be heard promptly, he would rather be careful in this case.

Justice Kolawole reasoned that this was to avoid wasting judicial time and resources in conducting a trial that could be nullified by the appellate court on health ground.

He then adjourned the case to April 2 for continuation of trial upon studying the fresh medical report on Mr. Okah’s health status.

The judge had in a ruling in January ordered that a fresh medical examination be conducted on Okah within 15 days to confirm his mental state, after rejecting an initial one.

The ruling followed an observation raised by Mr. Okah’s counsel, John Ainetor, who had argued that there were some inconsistencies contained in the report.

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Four people, believed to be members of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, were in December 2011 arraigned over the bombings.

The leader of the group, Henry Okah, was later convicted and sentenced to jail in South Africa.

One of them, Tiemkemfa Osvwo, aka General Gbokos, died later; while another, Edmund Ebiware, who was tried separately, was sentenced to life imprisonment.


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