SAfrica: Diary, weapons receipt found at Okah home

AP News
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Posted: Oct 14, 2010 12:55 PM
SAfrica: Diary, weapons receipt found at Okah home

South African prosecutors said Thursday that authorities had seized diaries vowing a "fight to the end" and a quotation for rocket-propelled grenades from the home of a Nigerian man accused of involvement in deadly car bomb attacks in his homeland.

The news came at a bail hearing for Henry Okah, who was arrested in Johannesburg on Oct. 2 and is being held on terror charges in connection with the bombings that killed at least 12 people in Nigeria's capital during a celebration to mark 50 years of independence. The hearing was adjourned until Friday.

Okah's lawyers say he denies any involvement in the attacks and say he is not a member of the militant group that claimed responsibility _ the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND.

The diary entries, read in court, discuss guerrilla fighters, training discipline, the use of explosives, boats and night vision. In an entry dated Sept. 19, 2010, Okah wrote:

"God is with us. We will fight to the end," says an entry dated Sept. 19 _ 11 days before the attacks.

Prosecutors said they also found in Okah's home a Sept. 3 invoice from a Chinese company not registered to deal in arms in South Africa showing the price of rocket launchers, rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades, guns and heavy artillery.

Nigeria's attorney general Mohammed Bello Adoke sent a written affidavit pleading for the magistrate not to release Okah, calling him the mastermind of the militant group and charging he is engaged in warfare and "economic sabotage" against Nigeria.

Okah, who has lived in South Africa for the past year, denies any involvement with MEND though he is widely believed to have been a former leader of the movement that has destroyed oil pipelines, kidnapped petroleum company workers and fought government troops since 2006.

The group accuses Nigeria's government of doing nothing to end poverty in the delta even as the nation receives billions of dollars from oil found in the delta region. Nigeria is a major oil supplier to the United States.

"I was arrested after the bomb attack to appease Nigerian officials who had placed significant pressure on South African authorities to arrest me," Okah said in an affidavit presented by his lawyer. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's reaction to the bombings has "resulted in a serious embarrassment," he said.