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

Nearly Every Job in America Mapped in Detail

A nifty map pinpoints practically every job in the United States, revealing the economic character of America’s metropolitan areas, which also helps to inform the local culture

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
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.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle reports from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs