Ebun Francis || The imprisoned leader the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Henry Okah has accused the South African government of maltreating him.
Okah’s conviction was affirmed by the South African constitutional court recently.
But in a statement after the affirmation of his conviction, the embattled MEND leader said he will seek redress from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, Netherlands.
While describing the Niger Delta agitation as similar to the apartheid struggle by the African National Congress (ANC) to fight white oppression, Okah said his reinstated conviction was “laughable,” accusing the court of “side-stepping critical questions raised by his legal team”.
His statement read, “The situation in the Niger Delta is a conflict as defined by International Human Law (IHL), the internationally accepted body for legislation for adjudicating conflict situations.”
“Therefore, prosecuting a party to a conflict in a foreign country under the South African anti-terrorism act, where the same statute is inapplicable to other parties to that same conflict is, in my opinion, illogical, and in fact absurd.
“The South African armed struggle against apartheid and that undertaken by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) are not dissimilar in substance. Even more shocking is the continual imprisonment as common criminals in South African prisons of soldiers of liberation armies who had been captured by the apartheid government almost a quarter of a century after independence in South Africa.
“I have been seriously mistreated by the South African government which had forged virtually all the documents used in my trial. I have been assaulted, electrocuted, denied sunlight and possibly poisoned in the last four years.
“For four years, I have been fed with two slices of bread for hospital, five slices for launch, and five for dinner. Despite being seriously ill, I have been denied access to a doctor and I have been forced to live with a growth in my throat and severe abdominal pains for the last one year but such inhuman treatment will never dampen my spirit.”
“The Nigerian government working in concert with the South African state denied me access to my witnesses, whilst witnesses for the state were transported to South Africa and accommodated at the expense of the Nigerian government could not have had any effect on the outcome of my trial?” he asked.
“The injustice is not limited to the Niger Delta as that is region is but a microcosm of the deplorable state of the country. A united Nigeria possesses the potential to ascend to great heights under good leadership,” he said.
Okah is serving a 24-year prison sentence in South Africa for a series of attacks in Warri and Abuja in 2010.