2 October 2010

Nigeria: Alaibe Fingers Okah in Abuja Bombings

Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Mr. Timi Alaibe, said on Saturday that Friday's bloody blasts in Abuja could only be the handiwork of one man masquerading as the Niger Delta armed group, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).

He said the Niger Delta peace process, anchored on an amnesty programme by the federal government, was still on course with the core of the former fighters on board.

He disclosed that security agencies had intelligence on the attack and had removed and detonated explosives in vehicles at major locations like the State House car park and Transcorp Hilton motor park, saying the bombers managed to plant their devices in vehicles parked away from the anniversary venue.

But Alaibe told THISDAY that all the leaders of MEND, except Mr. Henry Okah, had accepted the federal government amnesty programme for repentant militants and were cooperating with the government.

The amnesty was designed for those who had borne arms in the Niger Delta and were ready to turn their backs on armed struggle.

Alaibe said the men who were the face of MEND, namely, Mr Victor Ben Ebikabowei (alias General Boyloaf), Government Ekpumopolo, and Farah Dagogo, had surrendered their arms and were working closely with the federal government in the implementation of the amnesty package.

"Everyone in the structure knows Jomo Gbomo is Henry Okah. There is no MEND sitting anywhere in any camp. It's all Henry Okah, through and through," Alaibe said.

He said the bombing "has nothing to do with the amnesty, but it has everything to do with politics. The bombers are not the boys we are dealing with."

The presidential aide called Okah a "gun runner" who specialised in procuring operatives for terrorist acts.

"Somebody is carrying out a terrorist act. It is no agitation. It is outside agitation completely. It is pure terrorism," Alaibe said, explaining, "Our effort to resolve the Niger Delta crisis is impacting on the region because since we started, we have seen the crisis really abate."

Alleging that Okah's MEND had lost public goodwill, Alaibe recalled Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka's deadline to MEND to go straight on the Niger Delta peace efforts or he would resign his nomination by the group as a member of the negotiating team between MEND and the federal government.

However, sources in the Niger Delta say the federal government is dragging its feet on promises to repentant militants and unconsciously creating incentive for the people to go back to old acts like the one in Abuja on Friday.

"While we strongly condemn Henry Okah and his so-called MEND, we exercise some reservation over how the federal government has responded to the understandings reached with those who have surrendered arms in line with the amnesty initiative," a man, who preferred anonymity for fear of repercussions from the militants and the government, told THISDAY in Port Harcourt.

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