News / Africa

    Nigerian Police Arrest Nine Bombing Suspects

    A Nigerian soldier lies on the ground after a small blast was heard in the midst of 50th anniversary celebrations of Nigeria's independence at Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria, 01 Oct 2010
    A Nigerian soldier lies on the ground after a small blast was heard in the midst of 50th anniversary celebrations of Nigeria's independence at Eagle Square in Abuja, Nigeria, 01 Oct 2010

    Nigerian police have arrested nine suspects in connection with Friday's independence-day bombings that killed 12 people. Nigeria's president says terrorists are using the struggles of the oil-rich Niger Delta to camouflage their criminality.

    Connections with militant leader Henry Okah

    Nigerian intelligence services spokeswoman Marilyn Ogar says the nine suspects are connected with former Niger Delta militant leader Henry Okah, who is under arrest in South Africa.

    "Nine arrests have been made and all have direct links with Henry Okah, the incident, and some unscrupulous prominent elements in the society," Ogar said. "Due to ongoing investigations, the names of the suspects and their sponsors can not be disclosed at this stage."

    Original plot

    Ogar says terrorists originally planned to attack Abuja last Wednesday, but their plans were foiled by state security services who towed more than 60 abandoned vehicles from areas near the parade ground where independence-day ceremonies were scheduled to take place.

    "The overriding objectives of the group was to scare away foreign visitors from attending the 50th anniversary celebrations on First October, 2010," Ogar added.

    Ogar says security services used electronic equipment to jam the detonation of explosives within the parade grounds. But because vehicles were doubled-parked around the area on independence day, terrorists were able to set off two car bombs.

    MEND claims responsibility

    The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta says it carried out the attack because Nigeria has nothing to celebrate after 50 years of failure, including the neglect of the people and the environment in the oil-rich delta.

    Asked if the nine suspects are part of the MEND group, Ogar said only that they were related to Henry Okah, who has been charged under South African anti-terrorism laws.

    President Goodluck Jonathan says the attack is not related to Niger Delta militants, but was instead carried out by a small terrorist group from outside Nigeria that is using the problems of the Delta as a disguise.

    "What happened had nothing to do with the Niger Delta," Mr. Jonathan said. " People just use the name of MEND to camouflage criminality and terrorism."

    Mr. Jonathan came to office earlier this year following the death of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua. He is the first Nigerian leader who is from the Niger Delta, so Niger Delta violence is a big issue for him, especially because he is running for president next year.

    Lack of attention not tenable

    On a hospital visit to those injured in the attacks, he told reporters that no one can claim to be more Niger Delta than him, so he is certain the bombings had nothing to do with the problems of the Delta.

    "They are not struggling for anybody. They are not representing anybody's interest," he added. "And the release purported to be from MEND attributing to the lack of attention to the Niger Delta is not tenable because this is the first time somebody from the Niger Delta has the opportunity to even be president of this country for four months. So whatever your grievances are, you have your own [leader] here. You should have some hope. Good things do not happen overnight."

    Some former militants who joined the amnesty program appear to back up the president's claim the bombing was not the work of MEND. Cross Ebikosore is a former MEND commander in the Delta.

    "Those who do that bombing, we do not know where they come from," said Ebikosore. "All of our MEND from Delta State and Bayelsa, everybody is surprised by the bombing. We do not support the bombing at all. Those who are bombing Abuja, they are not fighting for our rights. They are looking for their other type of thing they want."

    Need to draw line between political struggle and criminality

    Human rights activist Oke Adheke says turning Nigeria into a country where people settle political scores by killing one and other does not serve the interests of the Delta.

    "Let us draw the line between political struggle and criminality," Adheke said. "This is pure criminality. Full stop. You can not say you are fighting for me when we have a lot of opportunities for dialogue. Nothing calls for this kind of behavior."

    Pastor Sylvester Odemakpore has been involved in the Niger Delta amnesty. He says the legitimate demands of militants must be addressed through dialogue not violence.

    "Let us see what the present government, the president leaders will do," Odemakpore said. "If they did not measure up before or whatever measures they will take they will continue. But for now we should stop the killing."

    Thousands of former fighters took part in last year's amnesty, which promised monthly stipends and job training as well as greater investment in the Delta's infrastructure. Some of those militants now say the federal government has failed to keep its word. Violence resumed in March with a car bombing near the site of a meeting to discuss the amnesty.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora