Okah Opens Up On Bombing: FG wants to frame me

VANGUARD Newspaper- Daniel Idonor

ABUJA—FORMER leader of the Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, Mr. Henry Okah, yesterday, accused the President Goodluck Jonathan-led government of instigating his arrest and prosecution in South Africa over October 1 twin bomb blasts in Abuja, because he allegedly refused to do the bidding of the government.

From the left, Ijaw Youth Council Spokesperson, Kuku Kingsley Kuku; President Ijaw Youth Council, Kuromera Miabiye; MEND LeaderFara Dagogo; Founder, Defunct Niger Delta Vigilante and Patriotic Force, Chief Ateke Tom; Founder, Defunct Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force, Alh. Asari Dokubo; Niger Delta Activist, Mr. Tony Uranta; Founder MEND, Chief Government Ekpemopol a.k.a. Tompolo and Chief Ebikabowei Victor Ben, a.k.a. Boyloaf during the solidarity visit to the Federal Government by leaders of Niger Delta former Militants at the State House, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida
Okah who is being held in police custody on the orders of a Johannesburg court told a news agency, Al Jazeera, that an aide of President Jonathan called him on phone asking him to urge MEND to retract its statement claiming responsibility for the bomb attack.

He said he refused and was arrested by South African Security operatives the following day.

In a swift response, however, the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Ima Niboro denied Okah’s claim and challenged Okah to name the President’s aide who contacted him.

Okah had told Al Jazeera that he received a phone call from a “close associate” of President Goodluck Jonathan, telling him to urge the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, to withdraw its claim for the bombings which killed at least 16 persons and left 36 others injured on the 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence.

Okah said: “On Saturday morning, just a day after the attack, a very close associate of President Jonathan called me and explained to me that there had been a bombing in Nigeria and that President Jonathan wanted me to reach out to the group, MEND, and get them to retract the earlier statement they had issued claiming the attacks.

“They wanted to blame the attacks on northerners who are trying to fight against him (Jonathan) to come back as president and if this was done, I was not going to have any problems with the South African government.

“I declined to do this and a few hours later I was arrested. It was based on their belief that I was going to do that, that Jonathan issued a statement saying that MEND did not carry out the attack.”

Jonathan dares Okah to name presidential aide

President Jonathan has, however, reacted to allegations by Mr. Okah that a presidential aide called him to implicate political opponents in the Friday bomb attacks in Abuja.

Ima Niboro, in a statement denied the claim, saying “it is an outright lie, and we challenge Okah to name the President’s aide that spoke to him on the subject.

“Mr. Henry Okah who has been openly charged for masterminding the terror attacks against his home country has been quoted by Al Jazeera Network as claiming that an aide of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan called to ask him to blame the October 1, 2010, bombings on Northern politicians.

“This, of course, is an outright lie, and we challenge Okah to name the President’s aide that spoke to him on the subject. There is an ongoing investigation on Okah’s alleged involvement in the bombings in Nigeria.

“In South Africa, he has already been charged to court. He should face the charges, and stop making frivolous claims. There is no question that Okah is a drowning man determined to pull others down with him, and there is hardly any purpose to be served by joining issues with an accused mass murderer. Okah is a man who has been known to say one thing and do another, and we are not at all surprised by his diversionary rhetoric.”

Ken SaroWiwa Junior, who reacted to Henry Okah’s allegation in an interview with Aljazeera said members of MEND have signed on to amnesty deal by the Federal Government and there was no way they would have gone back on their word by carrying out the bomb attack.

Okah, who was arrested in Johannesburg on Saturday, has denied links to the blasts saying that his group was not responsible for the car bombings.

On Sunday, the police declared Chima Orlu and Ben Jessy wanted in connection with the bombing as suspects in the case but gave no further details about them. Okah, 45, was, however, not asked to make his plea to the charge and said nothing in court except to greet his lawyers.

His defence said he was innocent and that they would file an urgent appeal for him to be released on grounds of unlawful arrest.


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