News / Africa

    Suspect in Nigeria Blast Disowned by Niger Delta Militants

    In this undated file photo provided by the militant group Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, militant leader Henry Okah poses for a photo. The ex-leader of a militant group that claimed responsibility for a dual car bombing that killed 12 i
    In this undated file photo provided by the militant group Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, militant leader Henry Okah poses for a photo. The ex-leader of a militant group that claimed responsibility for a dual car bombing that killed 12 i

    Authorities in Nigeria say the main suspect in the bombing deaths of 12 people during last Friday's independence day celebrations is former Niger Delta militant Henry Okah. 

    Individual action

    Nigerian security services say there is a clear difference between Henry Okah's individual actions and the group to which he once belonged - the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta.

    State Security Services spokeswoman Marilyn Ogar says nine suspects under arrest are associated with Okah, not the broader MEND movement. "It think we all have to be careful.  I have mentioned here that we have arrested nine suspects who have direct links to Henry Okah.  I never mentioned MEND.  I never mentioned an organization.  I said to the incident and some unscrupulous prominent Nigerians," Ogar said.

    Denies involvement

    Okah is in a South African jail, charged with conspiracy to commit a terrorist act in connection with last Friday's bombing in Abuja.  Okah lawyer Peter Krause denies his client's involvement in the attack and has asked to see the affidavit that led to his arrest, saying he doubts it came from Nigerian authorities.

    "Mr. Okah obviously expects the entire arrest and his prosecution in South Africa to be initiated by the Nigerian authorities," Krause said. "But we do not suspect at this stage that the affidavits upon which the arrest warrant and the search and seizure warrants were obtained emanated from Nigeria."

    Okah was released from Nigerian custody just last year as part of a Niger Delta amnesty program.  So how did he get to be the main suspect in the independence day bombing?

    Conflict with MEND leadership

    Niger Delta student leader Chris Onodjacha is the National Association of Nigerian Students president.  He says the problems between Okah and MEND began when Okah refused to accept last year's amnesty.

    "Others who accepted the amnesty, they were shown on electronic media.  But in the case of Henry Okah, there was nothing like that," Onodjacha said. "Since he did not accept the amnesty, the contents of the amnesty would not have an affect on him because he did not append his signature."

    Onodjacha says Okah was determined to continue to fight the federal government against the wishes of MEND leaders, most of whom accepted the amnesty. "If a man is not to be pursuing the beliefs and ideologies of a particular body, those who are in the body of course can get up to say, no, these are not our ideologies, these are not our beliefs.  These are not part of our modus operandi.  We therefore see this person as a non-member," he said. "I think this is what has happened in the case of the MEND leaders and Henry Okah."

    Because of that falling out with Okah, MEND commander Asari Dokubo says Friday's bombing should not be associated with the people of the Niger Delta. "I want to say that the action that took place is despicable.  It is heinous.  And it is condemnable," he said. "We the people represented by all the people of Niger Delta we have condemned this action."

    Dokubo's spokesman Rex Anighoro says Okah bought the group weapons, but was never part of its leadership.

    "Henry Okah has never been the head of MEND.  He was only a part of MEND to the extent that he was an arms dealer," Anighoro said. "He knew very well those who were in the struggle.  He supplied them arms."

    Anighoro says Okah's conflict with MEND leadership was not only about the amnesty.  He says there was also the issue of criminality. "Henry Okah, due to his influence, criminalized the struggle, brought certain elements of money making, money taking.  Our organization has always viewed him as one who was never really for the struggle, but one who used his influence wrongly to bring down the morality of the struggle," he said.

    President Goodluck Jonathan says the attack attributed to Okah was sponsored by unpatriotic elements within Nigeria.  That investigation has become political with the questioning of former military leader Ibrahim Babangida's presidential campaign director.

    The retired general is running against President Jonathan in next year's election.  State-run television says Babangida campaign director Raymond Dokpesi was questioned about text messages found on the phone of one of the suspects which referred to a monetary payment.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.