‘Okah funded Abuja bombings’
By Ruona Agbroko
October 22, 2010 02:56AM
The Republic of South Africa beefed up its case against suspected terrorist, Henry Okah, yesterday by providing evidence linking the suspect to the two vehicles detonated in Abuja on October 1.
Following an earlier ruling by the presiding magistrate, Hein Louw, that he needed “something substantial” to come to a decision concerning Mr Okah’s bail application, the prosecuting lawyer, Shaun Abrahams, read a supplementary affidavit signed by the Police Services Officer in charge of the investigation, Noel Graeme Zeeman, which said prior to the detonation of the vehicle-rigged explosive devices, two vehicles were purchased in Lagos on Mr Okah’s instructions.
According to the affidavit, the explosions took place under the supervision of one Chima Orlu, who is said to have acted on the instructions of Mr Okah. Mr Orlu’s telephone records reportedly show that he was in contact with Mr Okah on numerous occasions leading up to the independence day attack. Mr Okah is also said to have sent text messages to Mr Orlu on the midnight preceding the attack and on October 1 at 6h 02:39am, 7h 40: 20am, 7h 41:22am and at 7h 41:35 am.
Mr Zeeman’s statement stressed that, “of greater significance is that Mr Orlu sent an SMS to Mr Okah at precisely 10h 58:59 am on 1 October, 13h 13:01am and 13h 29:59pm on the same day.” Mr Zeeman’s affidavit adds that Mr Orlu “made a total of 43 voice calls and sent 27 text messages to co-perpetrators and co-conspirators.” Mr Orlu was declared wanted by Nigeria’s State Security Service after the bomb blast.
The affidavit also states that one Ben Ebere had made calls and sent SMS to Mr Okah right up to 29 September. “There were 1126 calls from Okah to Ben Ebere, aka Ben Jesse, from 7 August to 29 September,” stated Mr Zeeman.
Mr Okah also sent 59 text messages to Mr Ebere from 1 July 2010 to September 2010.
It was also revealed that e-mails between Mr Okah and arrested suspects, John Tarmy and First Man were being investigated. One in particular reads: “Done, tell them to leave now.” According to the document, this email was forwarded from First Man to John Tarmy at 11:15 am on 1 October 2010 and forwarded the same day to Mr Okah at 16h 25:40.
Okah’s attorney responds
Rudi Krause, lawyer to Mr Okah, took time off to consult with his client and then filed an affidavit stating that he will not be able to refute the allegations presented by the prosecution unless he was provided with printouts of the telephone records, text messages, cell phone memory and the hard drive from Mr Okah’s computers which the State used in making up its case. He suggested that the evidence put before the court had been fabricated.
At this point, Judge Louw pointed out that the cell phone and computers were Mr Okah’s, and seized from his own home, which “precludes the state from fabricating evidentiary material.” Mr Krause, in resuming his reading of his client’s affidavit, said Mr Okah had no knowledge of Mr Orlu and Mr Ebere, but had received information that Mr Jesse used cell phone number 08039945640 to call him but he (Mr Okah) couldn’t access his call records to cross-check this information, as his cell phone had been seized by the police.
But Mr Abrahams maintained that; “we can give copies of what was seized from him (Mr Okah), and not what was obtained in the course of the investigation.” He also pointed out that Mr Okah “miraculously produced a telephone number for Ben Jesse, after saying he didn’t know Ben Jesse during cross-examination.” Judge Louw subsequently ruled that the state would go through Mr Okah’s request and adjourned the matter for today, October 22.
HERE ARE VERBATIM EXTRACTS FROM THE SA POLICE AFFIDAVIT
(Signed by by Noel Graeme Zeeman of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, in the South African Police Services,SAPS):
“In brief, and to date, investigations into the said bombings reveal the following from verifiable evidence:
Prior to the detonation of the two vehicle-improvised explosive devices on 1 October 2010 in Abuja, two vehicles, namely a Honda and a Mazda 626, were purchased in Lagos on the instruction of the accused by persons complicit in the crime.
On the instructions of the accused, the said vehicles were conveyed to Port Harcourt, where the boots of the vehicles were loaded with dynamite, which were packed in sacks and wired with timers.
At 11h 00am, on 1 October 2010, a vehicle borne improvised explosive device was detonated along Shehu Shagari Way, a public bridge road near a prominent hotel in Abuja. The Honda was used in this first explosion, which resulted in the death of one person and severe injuries to many other persons.
Approximately 10 to 15 minutes after the first explosion, a second vehicle borne improvised explosive device was detonated about 100 metres away, near the Wuse Market. The Mazda 626 was utilised in the second explosion, which resulted in the death of 11 persons and severe injuries to many other persons.
The Nigerian Police Force Anti-Bomb Squad, Forensic, Investigative authorities conducted a post-blast investigation of the scene.
Two cellular telephones, each with multi-strand wires attached thereto, were found in proximity to the scene of the second explosion.
The post-blast investigations confirmed that the main explosive charges were located in the boot of the vehicles and that dynamite had been used.
Explosive residue swabs were also collected by investigators from each vehicle.
The Vehicle identification numbers (VIN numbers) of both vehicles were established. The driver’s licence of a Nigerian national was also found by Nigerian Police at the scene.
The explosions took place under the supervision of Chima Orlu, a Nigerian National, who is still at large. Chima Orlu acted on the instruction of the accused.
Orlu’s telephone records have revealed that he had been in contact with the accused on numerous occasions leading up to 1 October 2010. Of greater significance is that Orlu had sent an SMS message to the accused at precisely 10h58:59am on 1 October 2010. This SMS was followed by another SMS from Orlu at 13h13:01 am and again at 13h29:59pm, the same day.
SMSs were sent to Chima Orlu by the accused on 30 September 2010 at 12h38:11pm and on 1 October at 6h02:39am, 7h40:20am, 7h41:22am, and at 7h41:35 am.
On 1 October 2010, Orlu made a total of forty-three voice calls and had sent twenty-seven messages to co-perpetrators and co-conspirators.
Ben Ebere, a Nigerian National who is also at large, and who is also known as Ben Jesse, assisted Chima Orlu in the supervision of the said explosions. Ebere had been in telephonic and SMS contact with the accused right up to 29 September 2010.
There were 1126 calls from the accused to Ben Ebere during the period 7 August 2010 to 29 September 2010. There were also 59 SMSs sent from the accused to Ben Ebere during the period 1 July 2010 and 28 September 2010.
The contents of all SMSs between the accused and other perpetrators are still being investigated.
An e-mail communication between the arrested persons in Nigeria, namely, John Tarmy, First Man, and the accused on 1 October 2010, communicates the following: “done, tell them to leave now.”
This self-same e-mail was forwarded to the accused the same day at 11h15am on 1 October 2010 and forwarded to the accused the same day at 16h25:40.
There are further e-mail communications between the accused and persons arrested in Nigeria for the bombings of 1 October 2010 in Abuja with very revealing evidence. These are presently being investigated.”
MEANWHILE, IN ABUJA, A SECRET ARRAIGNMENT: