Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Nigeria terrorist attack suspect's court date pushed back

Explosions on Independence Day

Henry Okah is being held in a Johannesburg, South Africa, prison, but his lawyer, Rudi Krause, wants him separated from the general prison population for his safety, he said. He is being charged under terrorism legislation, Krause said. Extradition has not been discussed, he added. The prosecutor and police have applied for the hearing to be postponed to Tuesday morning, the lawyer said. Okah is suspected of being an influential member of the group that took responsibility for the bombings that killed 12 people and injured 50 in Nigeria on Friday. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, known as MEND, issued a statement Saturday saying it had given the Nigerian government advance warning. The Nigerian Intelligence Service said Monday that nine people have been arrested and are being questioned in connection with the blasts Friday in the nation's capital, Abuja. Authorities are still seeking two men, identified as Chima Orlu and Ben Jessy, whom they accuse of being the "masterminds" of the plot. But sources close to MEND told CNN that the two men are "not known to be MEND operatives or known to be active on the Niger Delta issue." They also raised concerns about the nine other arrests, calling them an "attempt by the Nigerian government to be seen to act."

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has appointed Andrew Azazi, his former chief of defense staff, to be the country's national security adviser in the wake of the bombings, Jonathan's office told CNN on Monday. The attack came as the West African country celebrated 50 years of independence. MEND blamed the government for the deaths. "The irresponsible attitude of the government security forces is to blame for the loss of lives," the MEND statement said. "The security forces were also warned one full hour to the first bomb blast ahead of the general alert sent to the media and told to steer the public from all parked cars which was not done," the statement continued. Jonathan later called the action a terrorist attack that was designed to "disrupt" the anniversary, presidential spokesman Imo Niboro said. But he said it had nothing to do with Niger Delta issues or MEND. MEND, which represents militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta, is an umbrella organization of several rebel groups. It has been battling the government for years over fairer distribution of the country's oil wealth. MEND said Okah had been harassed by authorities in South Africa, where he lives, but denied his involvement. "Okah has never been involved in a "Okah has never been involved in any MEND operations but has always been blamed for every attack, which is strange to us," MEND's statement said.


Post a Comment