Controversy is growing over who was responsible for last week’s Nigeria at 50 bombings in which 13 people were killed. The attacks came as the country was celebrating 50th independence anniverssary. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) released a statement and laid claim to the attacks but Nigeria’s President said they are lying.
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.”
Alleged MEND leader Henry Okah, one of nine people arrested over the bombings is accussing President Jonathan of trying to use the attacks to his political advantage.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera from his South African cell where he is currently being held, Okah said in the aftermath of the bombings, a very close attache of President Jonathan called him to tell him that there had bombings in Nigeria and that President Jonathan wanted him to reach out to the MEND and get them to retract their earlier statement in which they laid claim to the attacks.
Henry said the attache told him that President Jonathan wants to lay the blame of the attacks on the northerners whom Jonathan said were trying to fight him to deny him a second term in office. He said he was also told that unless he persuade the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) to withdraw their claim to the attacks he (Henry) will face more problems with South African authorities.