The Federal Government is to provide a defence lawyer for the
alleged mastermind of the 2010 Independence Day bombing in Abuja,
Charles Okah, who is facing terrorism charges before a Federal High
Court in Abuja.
Charles, a brother to a former leader of the Movement for the
Emancipation of the Niger Delta, Henry Okah, is being tried alongside
Obi Nwabueze for the bomb attack near the Eagle Square in Abuja.
Henry had been tried and is already serving jail terms in South
Africa for the attack in which about 12 persons were said to have died.
Charles and his co-accused, Obi Nwabueze, have been without a lawyer
since they disengaged the services of a Lagos lawyer, Mr. Festus
Keyamo, in October.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole therefore directed that the Federal
Government-owned Legal Aid Council should be contacted to provide a
lawyer for the accused.
The judge said the need for government to provide a defence lawyer
for the accused was in the spirit of fair hearing to which he (the
accused) was entitled.
He then adjourned the matter till February 19 and 25, 2015.
A lawyer from Keyamo’s law firm, Mr. John Ainetor, had disclosed to
Justice Kolawole on October 8, 2014, that Charles, through his relatives
stopped the law firm from further appearing for him and his co-accused.
No reason was given for the disengagement of Keyamo’s law firm. The firm had been defending the accused person since 2010.
Justice Kolawole had on July 8 adjourned till matter till October 8
for the prosecution led by Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN) to open its case by
calling its first witness..
But the development of Keyamo’s withdrawal from the case stalled the proceedings.
Izinyon confirmed that keyamo had informed him of the development
but expressed worries over what he referred to as four years of “delay
tactics” by the accused.
He described the development as “curious” and urged the court to
relieve Keyamo and give the prosecution time to call its witnesses.
In his ruling, Justice Kolawole said, “the case was brought by
Attorney General of the Federation on December 6, 2010. Almost four
years I can hardly recall how many rulings I have issued.”
He said while the case of one of the four accused persons who chose
to have his case tried separately was decided on January 2, 2013, one of
the accused died in custody.
“We have spent two years trying to resolve whether the accused is
mentally fit. The court found that he is fit. It is the constitutional
right of the accused to debrief his counsel,” He added.
He also said, “to embark on the trial today will be legally flawed as the court has the duty to allow accused change counsel.”