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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs