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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid