Johannesburg - Johannesburg High Court Judge Neels Claassen lashed out at the State for bringing in what he deemed “useless witnesses”.
This after the court heard testimony in the trial of Nigerian terrorism accused Henry Okah on Monday from a security official who had been on duty outside Eagle Square in Nigeria on October 1, 2010, for Independence Day celebrations.
Okah is accused of orchestrating and organising the twin car bombings which exploded near the square that day, killing eight people and injuring more than 50 others.
Franklin Dele Akingbade - a staff officer in charge of operations at the Department of State Security Services - told the court how he had been deployed at Millennium Park, just outside the square to screen people and vehicles entering the premises.
“At about 10.05am, the president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, and the commander of armed forces entered the venue. At about 10.30am, the policemen on duty with me drew my attention to a particular car that was bent on entering. I discovered there were no security details [on the occupants] and the car was not tagged [not authorised to enter],” he said.
He further explained that once Jonathan had entered a venue, no other entries were allowed. So the two men in the car retreated.
“Fifteen minutes later I heard an explosion. I went towards that direction to find out what was going on. On getting to the spot, I established it was a car bomb,” he continued.
As Akingbade spoke to witnesses on the scene, another explosion went off. “I found myself in a prostrate form. I wanted to stand but couldn’t… It was as if I had a very big load on me,” he said.
“I looked up while in that position and saw a car in the sky. It had thick smoke and was very dark… it was descending and as I couldn’t stand, I started crawling.”
He said he crawled onto an island block in the middle of the road and lost consciousness. He woke up in hospital and could barely hear for a month after the bombings.
However, Judge Claassen failed to see the relevance of Akingbade’s testimony. “Why did you call this witness?” he asked State prosecutor Shaun Abrahams.
“He is a totally useless witness,” the judge continued, adding that Akingbade’s testimony brought nothing new to the trial.
Abrahams differed. He told the court Akingbade was useful in terms of corroborating evidence the state would present later in the trial.
The trial continues.