Is Nigeria Negotiating With SA on the release of Henry Okah who was sentenced to 24 years in prison?
Indications have emerged that the Nigerian authorities purportedly plan to negotiate with the South African government for the release of Henry Okah, the imprisoned leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
Okah was in 2013 found guilty of 13 counts of terrorism and sentenced to 24 years in prison by a SA court. The Paradigm reports with reference to its sources that the Nigerian administration wants Okah to be discharged from the SA prison to further serve his term in Nigeria. The move was said to have been initiated by the former presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, with several meetings having already been held on the matter. Commenting on the allegations, the presidential media aide Femi Adesina said he was not aware of any such development. “I don’t have information on it. If I have information on such matter, I will tell you.” The source, however, insisted that the move had precedents:
“What they want to do had been done before. You remember sometimes when some drug convicts who were serving jail terms were outside the country were released to the Nigerian government to serve out their terms…” Following a bombing in Abuja on October 1, 2010, which claimed 12 lives, Okah was the next day arrested in Johannesburg. While he pleaded not guilty, MEND took responsibility for the act. Earlier this year the former militant was interviewed in prison. The talk was before the presidential polls, when Muhammadu Buhari was yet to be elected. Although Okah said he was disillusioned with Nigerian politics, he characterized Buhari as a man who “does not appear vain and would very likely be a more prudent civilian leader”.