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

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid