The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Thursday, dismissed a no–case submission filed by Charles Okah and ordered him to open his defence in the terrorism charges filed against him by the Federal Government.
Charles Okah is the younger brother to ex-leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, Henry Okah, who is serving life sentence in South Africa jail.
Okah, Nwabueze, Edmund Ebiware and Tiemkemfa Francis-Osvwo (aka General Gbokos) were first arraigned before the court on December 7, 2010 over their alleged involvement in the October 1, 2010 blast which left about 12 people dead and several others injured.
The court had earlier sentenced their co-accused, Edmund Ebiware, to life imprisonment, while the fourth defendant, Tekemfa Francis-Osvwo died in prison.
Delivering ruling on a no-case-submission filed by the defendants, Justice Gabriel Kolawole held that the prosecution counsel, Alex Iziyon had made out a prima facie case linking Okah and Nwabueze with the alleged offence.
In dismissing the submissions made by the defence counsel, Emeka Okoroafor and Oghenovo Otemu, (counsel to Okay and Nwabueze respectively) the court said “the prosecution has made out prima facie case through testimonies of witnesses”.
The Judge said the witnesses had linked the defendants with the charges and this requires them to offer explanation.
The court further held, contrary to the submissions of the defendants, that the evidence given by the 17 witnesses called up by the prosecution has not been discredited nor fractured to warrant upholding the no-case-submission.
Kolawole said: “At this stage of proceeding, court is not required to add probative value to the exhibits or form opinion on evidence adduced by witnesses.
“It is my view, that the testimonies of the witnesses have adduced prima facie case to warrant the 1st and 2nd defendants to enter defence.
“The no case submissions made by the defendants are not well founded; defendants are required to enter defence based on the testimonies of the 17 prosecution witnesses.”
Justice Kolawole adjourned the matter until July 5 and 6 for the defendants to open their defence.
News Agency of Nigeria recalls that on April 3, 2017 the defendants had urged the court to uphold their no case submissions.
The defendants cited overwhelming contradictions in evidence of the prosecution witnesses, insisting that there was no credible evidence to prove the allegation against them.
They argued that the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses were badly discredited that no court can rely on them to adjudicate on an issue.