News / Africa

Nigerian Leaders Call on Militants to Revoke Threat

Related Articles

Heather Murdock
After the former Niger Delta militant group known as MEND threatened to attack Muslim interests in retaliation for Boko Haram attacks, Christian leaders and ex-militants are calling on MEND to revoke the threat, and not turn the security crisis in the north into a religious war.

Religion, politics, ethnicity and economic interests all are fault lines in Nigeria that sometimes turn violent, but it is hard to say which of the divisions is most divisive.  

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, used to fight against oil companies and the government over Nigeria’s considerable oil wealth, which is all located in the southern Niger Delta region and does little to help the impoverished local people.  

But now MEND - or people claiming to be with MEND - say they will fight over religion. They say they will attack Muslim interests at the end of May in retaliation for years of attacks against Christians by Boko Haram, an insurgent group that advocates a harsh form of Islamic law.

At a church in the Niger Delta, Pastor Sylvester Odemapkore said Christians are not the only victims of Boko Haram attacks. Boko Haram-related violence has killed thousands since the uprising began in 2009, and the group has attacked churches, schools, security forces, government buildings, media houses and marketplaces.

Nearly all the victims, the pastor said, have been in the mostly-Muslim north.

“It’s not only the church that is victims. Both the church, both the Muslim, both the [non-religious body], they are all victims of what is happening too about the killings and all that,” said Odemapkore.

Simeon Efenudu, a former secretary to the Delta State governor and a regional ruling party leader, said that besides calling on MEND to revoke its threat, the government is reaching out to MEND itself.  

“Of course there is dialogue with them. The governor is leading the team to dialogue with them. The governor has a lot of influence and he can always call them and talk to them,” he said.

Other Niger Deltans, including former MEND allies, also are calling on the group to drop their countdown to violence. 

Tony Mezeeh, a lawyer, provided legal advice for MEND in the days of the uprising, which ended in 2009 with a general amnesty. He said Boko Haram attacks are staged by the northern elite to destabilize the government of President Goodluck Jonathan, a southerner.

“MEND should know that the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is their own brother from the Niger Delta. So anything they do, they should consider that government,” said Mezeeh.

Andrew Ebire is a former militant who traded in his gun for a chance to learn how to fix computers and a small stipend from the amnesty program. He said he does not think the threat even comes from the organization he knew as MEND, which was fighting for economic freedom.

"However, the threat may be real because any group of people can attack anyone and call themselves MEND," said Ebire.

Besides issuing the threat, MEND this month claimed responsibility for killing 12 police officers and causing a massive oil spill.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor 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.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

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