News / Africa

    Bombing Remarks Misunderstood, Nigerian President Says

    Johnathan Goodluck (file photo)
    Johnathan Goodluck (file photo)

    As investigations into Nigeria's Independence Day (October 1) bombings continue, President Goodluck Jonathan appears to be backing off his earlier assertion that the violence was not related to the problems of the oil-rich but underdeveloped Niger Delta.

    The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta immediately claimed responsibility for the Independence Day blasts in the capital.

    But President Jonathan says the attack was the work of a small group of terrorists, based outside the country, who were funded by unpatriotic elements within the country.  President Jonathan is from the Niger Delta, so the speed with which he absolved the militant group known as MEND brought criticism from northern politicians that the president did not understand the security threat and should resign.

    In a meeting with Northern political leaders Monday, President Jonathan sought to clarify his remarks, saying the "sin" that he committed was asking Nigerians not to automatically assume that car bombs in Edo State or Bayelsa State or Port Harcourt and now in Abuja are the work of MEND or are somehow related to the problems of the Niger Delta.

    "Whether you are a member of MEND or not, don't use MEND. My position was not saying that a member of MEND or from the Niger Delta is not an issue," he said. "But don't cover it up using MEND or Niger Delta.  That is what I said."

    This is what the president said on a visit to Abuja's main hospital the day after the bombing.

    "Let me also use this opportunity to reassure Nigerians that what happened yesterday had nothing, and I have to repeat, had nothing to do with the Niger Delta," he reiterated.   "People just use the name of MEND to camouflage criminality and terrorism."

    Dalhatu Sarki Tafida directs Mr. Jonathan's presidential campaign.

    "He did not say MEND is not part of this particular scenario.  He only said they are not the only ones," Tafida noted.  "He said there will be deeper investigations.  And, deeper investigations are going on."

    President Jonathan says he has decided to refrain from further comment on the bomb blasts to allow security agencies to do their work.

    Nigeria's State Security Service says its main suspect is the former MEND arms dealer Henry Okah, who is under arrest in South Africa.

    In a telephone interview with the Al-Jazeera television network, Okah says a close aide of President Jonathan called him after the bombing and asked him to have MEND retract its claim of responsibility.  Okah says the aide wanted to blame the attack on Northerners who are challenging President Jonathan's election campaign.  Okah says, when he refused, he was arrested by South African authorities.

    Presidential spokesman Ima Niboro says that is an outright lie.  In a written statement, Niboro challenges Okah to name the Jonathan aide who called him.  Niboro says Okah should face the charges against him in South Africa and stop making what he calls "frivolous claims."

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora