Eagle square blast: Court directs Legal Aid Council to get counsel for Okah

henry-okahBy A’isha Biola Raji

Justice Gabriel O. Kolawole of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, yesterday, directed that the legal aid council to liaise with the DCR, (Deputy Court Registrar) litigation, to source for a counsel for Charles Okah, the younger brother to ex-leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, Henry  Okah.

The court directed that the legal aid should work with the court registrar to acquire for the accused, a counsel who had practiced for minimum of 10 years and qualified for becoming a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

He warned that if after the counsel had been appointed, and it is established that the accused is not cooperating, it would be taken that they (accused) are deliberately frustrating the proceeding of the court.

Okah, alongside one Obi Nwabueze, are facing trial for the 2010 Independence Day twin bomb blasts at the Eagle Square, that led to the death of not less than 12 people, with several others injured.

According to the Judge, even though the second accused person Obi Nwabueze has not decided whether he is in need of a counsel or not, as he has not expressed his preference, there is no way the trial could continue without a counsel representing the accused. He said, “The human rights commission should be able to take such cases.”

The prosecutor, Dr Alex Iziyon SAN urged court to disregard the jurisprudent as Okah is using his words to deceive the court. He said, “The accused is using the excuse to delay the court proceeding; my Lord, do not be swayed by his eloquent speech.”

Charles Okah had pleaded that the state grants him a counsel due to his financial status. Also based on the fact that, he had not been granted bail as to be able to raise money for a new counsel.

He said, “If I had been granted bail like the Boko Haram suspect, Senator Ali Ndume who still receives salary monthly, my financial situation won’t be like this.

“I am requesting for a state assisted counsel preferably, one that is of equivalent status as that which was provided by the state as prosecution that is SAN.”

The judge also pointed that Okah’s offence is a capital offence. He however adjourned the case to 19th-25th February 2015.

He also ordered that both accused be taken back to Kuje prison where they will be able to hold conferences with the appointed counsel.

It will be recalled that one of the alleged organizers of the bombing, Mr Osvwo Tekemfa Francis, a.k.a ‘General-Gbokos’,  died in prison while the trial was going on, as the high court, in a part judgment, jailed one of the accused persons, Edmund Ebiware, to life imprisonment.

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