Henry Okah's Bombshell

2012-05-03
THE SUN Newspaper


In an affidavit to be filed in a South African court any moment from now, detained Mr. Henry Okah claims that first few days in April 2010, after Dr. Goodluck Jonathan became Acting President, one Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke phoned him over 20 times for help to become petroleum minister.

Okah claimed that in her calls, Diezani explained that she “was competing for the post of the Minister of Petroleum with the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr, Odein Ajumogobia,” and asked for assistance “to tip the scale in her favour.” But, the Presidency denied Okah’s claims.

In the 42-page affidavit, Mr. Okah claims Diezani specifically asked him to speak to President Jonathan and “put a good word for her,” furnishing him with up-to-date information on the president’s availability via calls and text messages.

Mr. Okah then spoke to President Jonathan in the early hours of April 5, 2010, he says in the affidavit, following which Diezani later called to thank him for his contribution in influencing her appointment as Minister for Petroleum Resources. Okah says in the affidavit that he reluctantly accepted to speak to Diezani at the prompting of then presidential adviser, Mr. Oronto Douglas, who, he said, called him on April 4, 2010, saying that Diezani was desperate to speak to him. Mr. Douglas underlined her need of Okah’s assistance in persuading President Jonathan to appoint her Minister of Petroleum.

In March, 2010, Mr. Jonathan had sent Douglas to meet Okah in South Africa, according to the affidavit. During their meeting, which took place between March 31 and April 1, Mr. Douglas informed Okah that the Northern region of Nigeria was doing everything to prevent Jonathan from being president. Mr. Okah had been in a South African prison since October 2, 2010. He is charged under the Terrorist Act’s Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorist and Related Act, Act 33 of 2004. He had been denied bail by various courts in South Africa.

Okah was linked with the 2010 Independence Day bombing of the Eagle Square in Abuja. He is facing charges that Chima Orlu, who allegedly supervised the operation, acted under his instructions. Prosecutors allege that he was in communication via phone and SMS with Mr. Orlu and another co-perpetrator, Ben Jessy Ebere. In Mr. Okah’s new affidavit, he affirms that on the day of the bombing, he received a call from Mr. Moses Jituboh, the Head of Personal Security to President Jonathan, who asked him to continue to cooperate with the President. As Mr. Okah asserted in 2010, following the bombing, Mr. Jituboh also asked him to shift the blame of the bombing to radical elements in the North.

Following the emergence of new facts, Mr. Okah is reapplying for bail. In his response to new information in his police docket that contains evidential materials that will be used in his trial. Okah is facing trial at South Gauteng High Court that is estimated to last over 18 months. He is pleading with the court to grant him bail because the case against him is weak and the state cannot provide evidential materials to support their case. The case will begin on October 1, 2012 by which time he would have spent two years in jail. The state has lined up over 50 witnesses from Nigeria to appear in court in South Africa. Okah also plans to call over 100 witnesses in his defence.

Reacting to Okah’s claims yesterday, the Presidency described as lies allegations contained in the affidavit.
In a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati said the allegations were false and without any factual foundation, adding they will meet in court since talking now will amount to subjudice.

The statement reads: “The attention of the Presidency had been drawn to reports in the media of allegations made against President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in an affidavit said to have been sworn to by Mr. Henry Okah who is facing trial in South Africa for his involvement in terrorist acts against the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The Presidency categorically affirms that these allegations are false in their entirety and without any factual foundation.

“As the case of Mr. Okah’s involvement in the plotting and execution of terrorist attacks in Nigeria is already before a court of competent jurisdiction in South Africa, the Presidency does not intend to say anymore on the matter for now and will, in accordance with due process and international law, make a full representation on the matter to the court when the trial opens.

“The Presidency also advises the Nigerian media to respect the sanctity of the legal and judicial processes in this matter and avoid becoming willing tools in the hands of Mr. Okah and his agents in an entirely diversionary trial by the media aimed only at falsely impugning the character and integrity of the President and officials of his administration,” the statement said.



 

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