South Africa’ s Constitutional Court on Friday set aside the judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal which had reduced the 24-year jail term for Nigeria’s Henry Okah, leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
Okah had last November, challenged his conviction in South Africa for the March 2010 car bombs in Warri, Delta State, and the 2010 Independence Day explosion in Abuja in which 12 people were killed and 36 injured.
He was resident in South Africa at the time of the explosions.
A Johannesburg High Court convicted him in 2013 for the two bombings under the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act.
It based its decision on the fact that he was a leader of MEND The High Court found he was a leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND)‚ an umbrella organisation of militant resistance groups in the south-eastern states of Nigeria.
Okah however approach the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) which declared that although the applicant orchestrated the Abuja bombings from within South Africa, the country had no jurisdiction to try him for the crimes the bombings took place outside the borders of South Africa.
It said the Act under which Okah was tried confers extra-territorial jurisdiction only in relation to crimes of financing terrorism.
His conviction was thus reduced to 20 years in prison.
The SCA’s ruling did not go down well with the state which headed to the Constitutional Court.
In a unanimous judgment on Friday‚ the Constitutional Court said South Africa has extra-territorial jurisdiction to try terrorist offences occurring outside the country.
Okah was convicted and sentenced to 24 years in 2013 on 13 counts of terrorism, including engaging in terrorist activities, conspiracy to engage in terrorist activities, and delivering, placing, and detonating an explosive device in 2010