President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the South African Government to commend the country’s Supreme Court of Appeal’s judgement that confirmed the conviction of Mr. Henry Okah over terrorism charges.
The court was said to have on Monday upheld a 20-year prison term for Okah having found him guilty on two out of the six-counts relating to the Warri bombings labeled against him.
The court was also said to have affirmed a 12-year sentence for his role in the October 1, 2010 Abuja bombing.
The convictions that were upheld were said to be those in respect of the Warri bombing, relating to Mr. Okah’s providing finance and equipment without which the bombing would not have been executed.
A Presidency source told State House correspondents on the condition of anonymity on Saturday that the Federal Government had sent what he called “a measured letter” to the South African government on the matter.
In the letter, President Muhammadu Buhari was said to have described the the judicial decision as a big step forward towards removing terrorism from the continent.
“South Africa has projected itself an enduring partner to Nigeria in the war against terrorism.
“When African countries act jointly against terrorism, they send out clear and unambiguous signals that there is no more place for terrorism on our continent,” the source quoted part of the letter to the South African authorities.
He added that the latest judgment is being seen by the Presidency as a victory for the fight against terrorism in all its forms and shapes.
He said the decision should be hailed by all well-meaning Nigerians and citizens of the world.
“The South African authorities are therefore, urged to ensure that Mr. Okah is made to face the full wrath of the law for his acts of international terrorism.
“The scourge of terrorism as perpetrated by the Boko Haram terrorists and the so-called Niger Delta Avengers or militants has led to the death of several Nigerians and the monumental destruction of national assets,” he added.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, confirmed the development to journalists.
Shehu said the Presidency viewed Okah’s conviction positively “as serious signal in cleansing Nigeria of terrorism.”
The court was said to have held that Okah provided more than N2m to three individuals for the purpose of acquiring vehicles and explosives for use in the Warri bombing.
On the Abuja bombing, the Court upheld that Okah conspired, planned and instructed people in relation to its execution while he was in South Africa.
The Court therefore, held that exemption clause on extra-territorial application could not apply as Okah orchestrated the Abuja bombing while in South African territory.
The Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa, by this judgment has effectively reduced the 12-year sentence for Warri bombing to eight years but maintaining the 12–year sentence for the Abuja bombing, making the period 20 years all together as against the 24 years ruling by a lower Court.
Okah was granted Permanent Residency in South Africa in 2007, and was arrested in Johannesburg on October 2.