By Mabel Yakubu
Almost seven years after the Independence Day bombing on October 1, 2010, Charles Okah on Wednesday at the Federal High Court, Abuja, opened his defence.
Okah who called his first witness is defending a terrorism charge filed against him by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Charles Okah is the younger brother to ex-leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Henry Okah, who is serving life sentence in South Africa prison.
Okah, Obi Nwabueze, Edmund Ebiware and Tiemkemfa Francis-Osvwo (aka General Gbokos) were first arraigned before the court on Dec. 7, 2010 over their alleged involvement in the Oct. 1, 2010 blast.
The blast left about 12 people dead and several others injured.
The court had earlier sentenced Edmund Ebiware to life imprisonment, while the fourth defendant, Tekemfa Francis-Osvwo died in prison.
Led in evidence by the defence counsel, Emeka Okoroafor, the first defence witness Elizabeth Okoye, who is a civil servant, told the court that she worked with the defendant for 10 years before he was arrested.
According to her, she worked with the defendant as a cook and a nanny for 10 years before he was arrested in 2010, which made her to join the civil service.
She said on Oct. 16, 2017 she took the Department of State Service (DSS) officers who came to arrest Okah round the house to conduct some search.
When cross examined by the prosecuting counsel, Alex Iziyon(SAN), the witness said when she was working with Okah, she stayed in the boys quarters different from the main house.
She further said on Sept. 13, 2010 she was working in the main building when Nwabueze( the 2nd defendant) came to the house, left and returned after an hour with money in dollars and naira.
When asked if she knew one Bassey Nwore a welder who came to the house four times to repair the vehicles, she said no.
Okoye said she always count the numbers of cars and there were two cars in the compound, adding that if someone visited the defendant and came with a car she would know.
“I have never seen a mechanic come into the compound to work on any vehicle since my 10 years of work and stay in the house.’’
When asked if she would be surprise that Okah in his statement said the money Nwabueze brought to him was in dollars and he converted it to naira, she said yes she would be surprise.
The defence applied that the court should order the prison personnel to allow the defence have a conference meeting with the defendants, along with the witnesses they are to present in court.
He said the visitation time in the prison would not be enough for them to meet and discuss along with the witnesses in order to have a speedy defence.
The prosecution who did not oppose the application said the defence should have told the court the number of witnesses they will present in order to know the time to allocate.
I a short ruling, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, granted the defence request and ordered that the defendants should be allowed access to their counsel from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. starting from July 15 and will run for five Saturdays.
He adjourned the matter until Oct. 11, for continuation of hearing.
The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN), recalled that Justice Gabriel Kolawole had on June 1, dismissed Okah ‘s no-case submission and ordered him to open his defence.