News / Africa

Niger Delta Militants Deny Involvement in Nigeria Bombing

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan waves to the crowd during the 50th anniversary celebrations of Nigerian independence, in Abuja, Nigeria, 1 Oct 2010
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan waves to the crowd during the 50th anniversary celebrations of Nigerian independence, in Abuja, Nigeria, 1 Oct 2010

Niger Delta militants say they are not behind Nigeria's independence day bombing that killed 12 people.  President Goodluck Jonathan says the attack was carried out by a small group of terrorists from outside Nigeria.

A statement attributed to the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta claimed responsibility for last Friday's bombings, saying Nigeria has nothing to celebrate after 50 years of failure, including the neglect of the people and environment of the oil-rich Delta.

But the leader of the group known as MEND, Tompolo, says Niger Delta militants had nothing to do with the attack and remain committed to an amnesty program introduced last year by the late president Umaru Musa Yar'Adua.

"We are not part of the incident on the First of October," said Tompolo.  "I want everybody in this country to go after anybody who is part of this havoc.  MEND is not involved.  I am the owner of MEND.  I recruited everybody.  And by the grace of God, we are here to support the late president.  And that is the same support we are now transferring to you as our brother.  We are going to work with you to save this country for everybody."

President Goodluck Jonathan is from the Niger Delta and says he is certain the group was not involved.

"When this thing happened, the name of MEND was mentioned.  I am from there, and I know the actors in MEND and the leaders of MEND and you are all here.  I am happy that you are here to tell Nigerians and to tell the rest of society that it is not MEND who did it," said Jonathan.

President Jonathan says the attack was carried out by a small terrorist group from outside Nigeria that is using the problems of the Delta to camouflage their criminality.  He says those terrorists are being sponsored by what he calls "unpatriotic elements within the country."

State security services say their primary suspect is former MEND leader Henry Okah, who is under arrest in South Africa.  But the investigation has taken on a political element with the questioning of former military leader Ibrahim Babangida's presidential campaign director.

The retired general is running against President Jonathan in next year's election.  State-run television says Babangida campaign director Raymond Dokpesi was questioned about text messages found on the phone of one of the suspects, which referred to a monetary payment.

President Jonathan is the first Nigerian leader who is from the Niger Delta, so his ability to control the violence there is a big issue in this campaign.  The meeting with MEND leaders was meant to further reassure Nigerians the bombing is unrelated to Delta problems.

MEND commander Asari Dokubo says such violence should not be associated with the people of the Niger Delta.

Dokubo says those who have given their lives in the struggle for the rights of the Niger Delta, including the executed author Ken Saro-Wiwa, would be turning in their graves at the attempt of those responsible for the bombing to claim to represent the interests of the Delta.

"We call on you, government, to investigate properly and give them the appropriate punishment," said Dokubo.  "Let there be no leniency in punishing those who are responsible for taking the lives of these innocent people. It is condemnable. I am a Muslim. We have the rule of engagement in our struggle that we do not kill innocent people."

Thousands of MEND fighters took part in last year's amnesty that promised monthly stipends and job training along with greater development in the Delta.  There have been problems delivering on those promises, and President Jonathan says he understands those frustrations.

"We will not disappoint you," added Dokubo.  "We will even work harder to see that the amnesty succeeds.  We will work with you and the leaders of the Niger Delta and the men and women from the Niger Delta to see that we bring development to that area."

Nine suspects are under arrest in Nigeria. State security services say they will not disclose their identities because the investigation continues.

You May Like

US Storm Falls Short of Severe Predictions, Yet Affects Millions

Governors of several East Coast states close schools, order travel bans, urge people to stay home as snowfall, heavy winds, flooding continue in areas More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle with Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people were displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid