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Babangida Campaign Director Questioned About Nigeria Bombing

Smoke and debris fill the sky seconds after a car bomb explodes alongside firemen responding to an initial car bomb that had exploded five minutes earlier, in Abuja, Nigeria, 01 Oct 2010

Nigerian security forces have questioned the presidential campaign director for former military ruler Ibrahim Babangida in connection with the independence day bombings that killed 12 people.

Babangida campaign director Raymond Dokpesi was questioned by members of the State Security Service and released without charge. Officials said he may be recalled for more questioning regarding the bomb attacks.

Nine people are under arrest in Nigeria in connection with Friday's deadly bombing. State Security Service spokeswoman Marilyn Ogar said the suspects are linked to former Niger Delta militant leader Henry Okah, who is being held by authorities in South Africa.

President Goodluck Jonathan said the independence day attacks are not related to the problems of the oil-rich, but underdeveloped Delta. He said it is the work of a small terrorist group from outside Nigeria that is being sponsored by what he called "unpatriotic elements within the country."

State-run television said Dokpesi was questioned about text messages found on the phone of one of the suspects that referred to a monetary payment. The deputy director general of the Babangida campaign, Senator Kanti Bello, says it is unfair, however, to suggest that Dokpesi had anything to do with the bombing.

"Is this the way we are going in this democratic dispensation? It would be unfortunate for this country. This is beyond intimidation," said Bello. "If what you have said is correct, for somebody to accuse a director general of an organization like this one, a frontrunner presidential candidate, a good citizen of this country, to accuse him of treason, because this is treason, that is a very serious accusation."

Babangida is running against President Jonathan in elections scheduled for next year. Bello says every Nigerian should see Dokpesi's questioning for what it is.

"We are not going just to close our hands and see that this country is being moved towards dictatorship and pushing us into the drain. That is unacceptable," Bello said.

Security Services spokeswoman Ogar will not reveal the identity of any of the suspects, nor will she say if any of them have contacts with current or former members of Nigerian security.

"Due to ongoing investigations, we might not be able to tell you whether they belong to any security organization or not because if we do that at this stage," noted Ogar, "we would have foiled our own attempts at getting to the main perpetrators."

President Jonathan said security forces are on the trail of those responsible for the violence and will not rest until everyone involved is brought to justice.