19 October 2010
FORMER leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Henry Okah, who is standing trial for the October 1 bomb blasts in Abuja, could be the same person as Jomo Gbomo, a letter by his wife, Azuka, has revealed.
Okah, who testified in his own bail application at a Johannesburg magistrate’s court on Monday, however, claimed he did not know Jomo Gbomo. He is facing charges of engaging in terrorist activities, conspiracy to engage in terrorist activities, and delivering, placing and detonating an explosive device.
Prosecutor, Shaun Abrahams, told the court that Okah was one of the people involved in sending an e-mail warning of the attack.
“Do you know anyone by the name of Jomo Gbomo or JG?” he asked the 45-year-old Okah. “No,” he responded.
Abrahams quoted from a letter, allegedly written by Okah’s wife, Azuka, entitled “a close look at Jomo Gbomo” said that Gbomo was Okah’s pseudonym. Nigerian authorities had traced the emails to Gbomo.
Abrahams said the content of the letter revealed Gbomo’s activities since 2007, adding that her description of the man was actually that of Okah.
Okah denied this and told the court that his wife was a writer, who downloaded a lot of documents from the internet, adding that the letter was not originally written by his wife, but was downloaded from the internet.
“I put it to you that the email was sent by your brother, Charles, the one who was arrested on Saturday,” Abrahams said.
But Okah said he did not know whether his brother sent the email.
Charles Okah was arrested in Lagos for allegedly being the man behind threats on behalf of the Movement for the Emancipation the Niger Delta (MEND) rebels.
His wife also told the AFP that four others – Okah’s son, Boloebi, 23; his son’s friend, Sola Ladoja; a house aide and a friend – were also arrested along with Charles.
The state had accused Okah of giving instructions for the bombs to be detonated in Abuja.
Okah spent most of the third day of his bail application explaining why he had included a list of high-calibre weapons in his diary. The list included anti-tank land mines, machine guns and air missiles.
The state alleged that Okah had intended to buy the weapons as listed.
However, Okah dismissed this, saying that the list was merely notes he had written while reading warfare books, for intellectual purposes.
Abrahams also grilled Okah about papers found at his house on October 2, which referred to him as a “distinguished businessman, chosen leader of MEND,” but Okah said “this is the first time I see this document.”
He denied this, saying that he was an “accepted” leader of the people in the region.
“I am a respected leader of the people of Niger Delta,” Okah said, adding that “just like Julius Malema, he is accepted here in South Africa as the leader of the youth; he is not the leader of any movement.”
He maintained he was a sympathiser “to the cause,” but not of MEND.
Abrahams asked why his wife would refer to him as the leader of MEND in a letter addressed to the media, but Okah said “I think she did it for clarity, because a lot of the media refer to me as a leader of MEND.”
Okah, who had looked confident throughout his cross-examination, became agitated as the state questioned him about a quotation for weapons and his business in Nigeria.