Security Agencies Bar Public from Bomb Suspects’Hearing
The State Security Service(SSS) yesterday arraigned the five suspects alleged to have planted the twin car bombs that exploded near Eagle Square, Abuja, during the October 1 independence celebration.
The suspects were arraigned in a closed session at the Magistrate Court in Abuja.
The security agency sealed off the court premises and refused to make the charges public. However, it was learnt that the five men, including Charles Tombra Okah, the brother of suspected militant leader, Henry Okah, who is also undergoing trial at a South African court for alleged terrorism, were brought to court on a three-count charge of conspiracy and felony.
Amid tight security, journalists, members of the public, and lawyers were barred from attending the hearing.
Onyeukwu Higher-King, counsel to Inest Olu, one of the suspects, told journalists outside the court premises that he wrote a letter to the director general of the state security service asking to see his client, but his request was turned down.
Mr. Higher-King said that he made the trip from Port-Harcourt to represent his client. He condemned the secret trial and described it as unconstitutional. He accused the SSS of usurping the powers of the court of law.
“This is a gross violation of the rights of my client as enshrined in section 35 and 36 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“It is unlawful; even a convicted person should be allowed to have access to his counsel. It is an arbitrary use of power by the Executive. The Executive is convicting my client before his trial,” he said.
Similarly, Ogochukwu Ezekiel and Oghenevo Otenu, representing Edmund Ebiware and Charles Okah respectively, expressed their dissatisfaction with the service’s conduct.
They both stated that every accused person should enjoy the constitutional right of being represented by a counsel of his choice.
Case against suspects
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the country’s main militant group, had claimed responsibility for the bomb blasts in a statement emailed to news organisations and signed by ‘Jomo Gbomo’, a pseudonym used by MEND’s spokesman.
The service identified Charles Okah as one of the known users of the name and arrested him in Lagos on Saturday, a day after a warning signed by Jomo Gbomo was emailed to news organisations stating that another bomb attack was planned in Abuja.
Charles Okah is the younger brother of Henry Okah, who has been charged in Johannesburg, South Africa, with conspiracy and terrorism over the bombings.
Henry denies any involvement.
The suspects were not allowed to speak with their lawyers, even after they came out of the court. Security operatives led them into waiting cars and drove them off. They are due to appear in court again on November 24.
The SSS said it had identified the owner of the Port Harcourt residence where the vehicles used in the bombings were wired, as well as the person who said he had co-ordinated the attacks with Henry Okah.
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