The Nigerian Prisons Service has denied reports of the death of Charles Okah, the suspected mastermind of October 1, 2010 Abuja bombing.
Mr. Okah was feared dead in Kuje prisons, Abuja Wednesday.
Several prison sources told PREMIUM TIMES Mr. Okah took his life in the facility a day after he was prevented from doing so while appearing before a judge.
Mr. Okah, a brother to Henry Okah, the leader of the Movement for the Emancipation Niger Delta, MEND, is standing trial on charges of terrorism.
On Tuesday, during an appearance at a federal High Court in Abuja, he made an attempt to jump down a three-storey court building. He was restrained by security operatives.
PREMIUM TIMES’ regional editor, Ibanga Isine, who was in court, said Mr. Okah sought the permission of the judge to give a brief remark.
He took the time to complain about his “endless trial”, and ended his comment by singing “Abide with me”, a religious hymn often rendered at funerals or close of day.
Mr. Okah said it was preferable to end his life than continue with the trial.
He then smashed a window and made an attempt to jump off the building.
Sources at Kuje Prisons told PREMIUM TIMES warders were seen looking gloomy early Wednesday as Mr. Okah’s body was taken out from the prison clinic to a hospital outside the yard.
“Today, the inmates’(cells) opened late as it is the convention whenever one of them dies,” said a source.
PREMIUM TIMES could not independently verify those claims.
But Enobore Francis, a spokesperson for the Nigerian Prisons Service, told PREMIUM TIMES the rumoured death was untrue.
“This is to officially respond to numerous media enquiries over the rumoured death of Mr. Charles Okah in prison custody,” he later said in a statement.
“We wish to categorically state and clarify that Mr. Charles Okah is not dead but alive, hale and hearty under the safe custody of the Nigerian Prison Service (NPS).
“The rumour has no iota of truth and therefore should be discountenanced.”
Mr. Francis said Mr. Okah woke up in good spirits and carried out his routine morning exercise and was in no way ill.
Asked whether he was on suicide watch, Mr. Francis replied that adequate provisions had been made to take care of such needs.
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