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

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid