By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Abuja
The Federal Government, yesterday, applied for an accelerated trial of the alleged mastermind of the 2010 Independence Day bomb blast that killed twelve persons at the Eagle Square in Abuja, Mr. Charles Okah.
Charles, who is a younger brother to ex-leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, Mr. Henry Okah, who had since been convicted by a South African Court, is facing terrorism charges alongside one Obi Nwabueze.
FG made the application after it denied an allegation by the accused person that a medication called Epilim Sodium Valproate (ESV), which is meant for epilepsy, was forcefully administered on him at the Kuje Prisons where he was remanded in by the court.
Consequently, the prosecuting counsel, Dr. Alex Iziyon, SAN, opposed Okah’s request that a private medical practitioner be allowed to examine him with a view to producing a medical report on the side effect of the said epilepsy drug on him.
“My Lord, the accused person is bent on frustrating this trial. His fresh application to be evaluated by an independent medical practitioner is very frivolous and wasteful of the precious time of this court. The state is irritated by this application.
“It is a clear ploy by the accused person to further delay this matter after four years. Justice is three-way traffic and my Lord should consider the interest of the larger society. People lost their dear ones in that explosion which led to the instant death of four children who came to watch the Independence Day celebration.
“They are certainly crying out for justice, this is why we want this trial to be expedited. This is a matter of serious nature that involves treason”, Iziyon added.
FG equally maintained that Okah who is currently confined to a wheel chair, is mentally fit to stand his trial, “he doesn’t need to stand in the dock. He can be tried in his wheel chair, after all former Egyptian president was brought to court in a cage and tried on a bed,” the government lawyer argued.
Besides, FG told the court that the exhibit Okah relied on to allege that he was given an epilepsy medication was produced in January, saying there was nothing to show that the drug was still being administered on him.
“We do not agree that the drug was even given to him. The document was cooked up to whip-up sentiment of this court”, Iziyon insisted.
He said FG has the liberty to transfer Okah to a mental home should he maintain that he is not mentally fit.
Meanwhile, Okah’s lawyer, Mr. John Anieto, yesterday, urged the trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole to look at the entire circumstances of the case impartially and without sentiment to public opinion.
Contending that the National Hospital which initially tendered a medical report on Okah is an agent of the federal government, Anieto, said his client’s family had volunteered to bear the cost of the proposed independent medical evaluation.
Before adjourning the matter to June 9 for ruling, trial Justice Kolawole, said the court would have no option than to suspend the proceeding should it be ascertained that the accused person is not fit to stand trial.
Likewise, the Appeal Court in Abuja has fixed September 16 to commence hearing on an appeal that was lodged before it by Okah.
It will be recalled that one of the alleged masterminds of that bombing, Mr. Osvwo Tekemfa Francis, a.k.a ‘General-Gbokos’, died in prison custody, even as the high court in a separate judgment, jailed the 3rd accused person, Edmund Ebiware, to life imprisonment.
Specifically, Charles and Nwabueze were said to have superintended over varying terrorist activities that hitherto took place within the oil rich Niger Delta region of the country, including the bomb explosion that rocked a post amnesty programme that was organised by Vanguard Newspaper in Warri, Delta State.
FG alleged that they endangered the life of President Goodluck Jonathan while Nigeria celebrated its 50th independence anniversary in Abuja.
Apart from a one-count charge with 22-particulars of overt acts of treason instituted against them, FG,\ alleged that they conspired with Henry Okah and one Emmanuel Allison to make a direct attempt to endanger the life of President Jonathan by seeking to drive two motor vehicles wired with time-regulated explosive devices to the Eagle Square where the Independence celebration was taking place.
FG also alleged that the accused persons between January 2 and March 15, 2010, within Port-Harcourt Rivers State and diverse places, conspired with Henry Okah, Chima Orlu, at large, and persons unknown, to make a direct attempt to endanger the lives of the Governor of Delta state, Edo state and Imo state by seeking to drive two motors vehicles wired with time regulated explosive devices into government house annex, Warri, Delta State, the venue of the Vanguard Post Amnesty Dialogue, where the said governors were in attendance, in order to cause a bomb blast for the purpose of levying war against the state.
It added that a man lost his life because of that explosion.
Charles was said to have among other offences, engaged the services of one Bassey Umoren, a welder, and paid him N50, 000, to construct hidden compartments into four motor cars, two of which were subsequently loaded with explosive devices at Port-Harcourt by Obi Nwabueze and Chima Orlu, at large, and positioned on 1st October at 0830 hours near the venue of the anniversary for the purpose of levying war against the state.
He was accused of sending two consignments of army camouflage torches, bullet proof vests and boots to Allison for onward transmission to one Segun Llori alias Stone face, at large, for use by terrorists recruited by Henry Okah in the creeks of Niger Delta.