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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs