MEND Threatens Second Bomb Attack in Abuja

THISDAY Newspaper

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta which claimed responsibility for the deadly Independence Day bomb blasts in Abuja has threatened to bomb the city again “to prove the innocence of those arrested and are being tried over the incident.”

The terror threat by the body coincided with the continuation of the bail hearing for Henry Okah, the MEND leader accused of orchestrating the deadly Abuja Independence Day bombings.

Okah returned to court in South Africa yesterday and poked holes in the prosecution's case against him during his testimony at his bail hearing.

A statement from MEND’s spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, said the group would carry out a second attack “because the federal government used the first blasts to start hounding political opponents.”

It said it would carry out the new attack “in a way similar to those of the October 1 blasts,” adding that the group regretted the loss of lives that attended the first attacks.

“As usual we will give a thirty minutes advance warning to avoid civilian casualties, then sit back and watch how the blame game will be played out on all those already falsely accused,” MEND threatened.

The movement alleged that the federal government put the South African government under pressure to hound Okah while some other innocent people were allegedly arrested and locked up for what they knew nothing about.

MEND said: “In an obvious attempt to intimidate anyone opposed to the presidential ambition of Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigerian government hiding under the cloak of terrorist hunters has been witch-hunting, falsely accusing and harassing its perceived opponents.

“The government of President Goodluck Jonathan responded by arresting innocent persons on trumped-up charges. From Chief Raymond Dokpesi, which indirectly was pointing at former military head of state, General Ibrahim Babangida to Henry Okah in South Africa, the government has also named and arrested persons not connected with our actions as suspects and masterminds.”

It alleged that the South African government is playing a partial role in the bombings “because the Nigerian government has threatened to nationalize the South Africa communication giant, MTN, if the country does not follow a devious script.”

MEND alleged further that the court in South Africa has been turned into a Kangaroo one and is “scandalously biased.”

“Both governments are bent on blaming innocent persons on ridiculous insinuations and unrelated evidence; we have decided to carry out another attack in Abuja without altering our mode of operation to prove the suspects’ innocence,” MEND threatened.

Okah, who lives in South Africa and was arrested in Johannesburg on October 2, the day after the Independence Day blasts killed 12 people, denied any links with the nine people already arrested in the aftermath of the attacks.

"I don't know them and I've never even met them," he told the South African court, as his bail hearing continued. Prosecutors told the court on Thursday that the police believe Okah had a "leading role in the explosions," and said he was in contact with the authors of the attacks immediately, before and after the bombings.

But Okah, 45, said he never had any role in violence which occurred while the 50th anniversary of Nigeria's independence from Britain was going on.

"I'm from the region, and obviously like everybody who's from the region I'm a sympathiser of the cause. But for me, that's where it stops," Okah told the court.

Prosecutors say a diary seized from his home links him to militant activity, but Okah said his notes on guerrilla warfare merely reflected an interest of his.

"That's my passion and I don't think there's anything wrong with that," he said. Okah claimed his arrest was part of a political ploy by President Goodluck Jonathan to blame the attacks on his political opponents and discredit them ahead of elections next year. The bail hearing is set to continue Monday.

Prosecutors have argued Okah is likely to flee South Africa if he is released before his trial. Okah has been in South African police custody since his arrest. He was granted his own cell after the court ruled that his life might be at risk in jail.

Three years ago, Okah was arrested in Angola and transferred to Nigerian custody.

He moved to Johannesburg after being released as part of an amnesty programme offered to militants in the Niger Delta.


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