Law News
Independence Day Bombing: Court Wants Legal Aid to Provide Okah with Counsel


A Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday said it would work towards getting a lawyer from the Legal Aid Council to defend Charles Okah, one of the suspects charged with complicity in the October 1, 2010 bomb blast.

Okah, who is facing terrorism charges before the court, had earlier relieved his defence counsel, Mr. Festus Keyamo, who had represented him since the commencement of the case four years ago.

A lawyer from Keyamo’s law firm, John Ainetor, had disclosed this to Justice Gabriel Kolawole at the last adjourned date.

When the matter came up on Thursday, Okah was in court but there was no counsel to defend him.

This prompted the court to suo motu (on its own) begin arrangement to get a lawyer from the Legal Aid Council to defend Okah, so as not to deny him fair hearing.

The court later adjourned till February 19 and 25, 2015.

At the last adjourned date, counsel from Keyamo’s chamber informed the court that sometime ago Okah’s sister had made a call debriefing Keyamo.

But the lawyer did not disclose the reason given by the accused for dispensing with Keyamo’s service.

Ainetor, who subsequently announced Keyamo’s withdrawal from the case, told the court that his boss  received a phone call from Okah informing him to stop representing him (Okah) and his co-accused, Obi Nwabueze, in the case.

The trial could not go on because Okah has no counsel.

The prosecutor, Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), had at the last hearing confirmed that Keyamo informed him of the development but expressed worries over what he referred to as four years of “delay tactics” by the 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.”

Okah, a brother to a former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Henry Okah, is being tried alongside Obi Nwabueze for the bomb attack near the Eagle Square in Abuja.

About 12 persons reportedly died in the attack.

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