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Nigeria Will Not Kowtow to ‘Terrorists’, Says Official

  • Peter Clottey

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

Nigeria’s foreign minister said his government is working closely with the South African government as the leader of a militant group suspected of carrying out last week’s twin car bombings is scheduled to appear before a south African court Monday.

Aliyu Idi Hong assured Nigerians as well as the international community that his government will not rest until those responsible for what he said were terrorist attacks are decisively dealt with.

“With the cooperation of the South African government, they are already investigating and interrogating him (Henry Okah, militant leader). So, we have every confidence to say that God willing they will establish strong linkages (with the attacks).”

Mr. Hong said Nigeria’s security agencies are looking at other options, including the possibility of other people outside the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).

MEND, a militant group, claimed responsibility for the attacks that killed at least 12 and injured dozens during Nigeria’s 50th independence anniversary celebrations in the capital, Abuja.

In a statement last week, MEND warned it will carry out attacks and called for the evacuation of people near the area of the celebrations.

The militant group denounced the celebrations, saying Nigeria had nothing to celebrate.

Over the weekend, President Goodluck Jonathan said a small external terrorist group carried out the twin bomb attacks despite claims by the militant group, MEND.

Critics say despite the warning, the government failed to act to prevent the attacks, a charge foreign minister Hong denies.

“It’s not fair for somebody to say the warning has not been taken. It must have been taken and also they have done their best. But, you are dealing with a population who has no marks on their faces there is no uniforms they are wearing and the cars they were using are not indentified. So, it is generally very difficult for you to pin (it down).”

Both local and the international community have sharply condemned the twin car bombings.

Foreign Minister Hong said his government will continue with its constitutional mandate to protect unarmed Nigerian civilians against any form of terrorist attacks.

“We are not going to be cowed by this type of behavior. All agencies of the government will be given the impetus and the strength and the capacity to do their work very well. And we will not leave any stone unturned to make sure that such a thing never happens again.”