Nigerian bomb blasts; an insight

2010-10-07 11:09
Abuja - They seemed designed to kill: two car bomb blasts within minutes of one another, on a busy road near the area where the country's leaders and foreign dignitaries had gathered on independence day.

The attack on Friday, the first of its kind in the capital, left at least 12 people dead, and it may have also signaled a bloody campaign season ahead for Nigeria, where elections have so often been tainted by violence.

"The election campaign has started on a very violent note, and I don't see this stopping," said Anyakwee Nsirimovu, head of the Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in the oil-producing Niger Delta region.

Even in a country that has grown weary with violence, the scale and boldness of the attack were shocking. Celebrations marking 50 years of Nigerian independence were occurring a short walk away at Eagle Square.

The bombs went off along a road that leads to the square from the Hilton hotel, the haunt of both Nigerian and visiting politicians, though none were apparently in the immediate area at the time.

Witnesses said the first blast drew people towards it who were caught up in the second, raising questions over whether the bombers' strategy was to lure in as many victims as possible.

Small terrorist group

According to witnesses at Eagle Square, what appeared to be a third, smaller bomb blast went off at the venue itself, but authorities firmly deny this. The ceremonies continued uninterrupted.

"It shows what to expect during the 2011 elections," said Debo Adeniran, head of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders pressure group. "There will be a lot of confusion, violence."

Burnt-out cars still sat on the roadside on Wednesday. Windows remained shattered at a hotel across the street.

At the Hilton, tight security was in place, causing traffic jams along the road to the entrance. Security workers checked the trunks of cars and peered inside vehicles as they entered the hotel grounds.

The question of who was behind the attack has only grown more complicated in recent days.

A statement purported to be from Niger Delta militant group Mend warned of explosions about an hour before they occurred, and another claimed responsibility for the attack afterward.

But President Goodluck Jonathan, who is from the Niger Delta and faces pressure to keep a lid on unrest linked to the region, has implicated a "small terrorist group" from outside the country.

Form a coalition

Ex-Mend leader Henry Okah was arrested after the bombings in South Africa, where he has a home. Authorities said other suspects held in Nigeria were connected to Okah, but not Mend.

It all raises the question of how to define the militant group - the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta.

The group, which claims to be fighting for a fairer distribution of oil revenue in the impoverished Niger Delta, has been seen as an umbrella organisation for criminal gangs.

It is also believed to have splintered over an amnesty offered by the government last year that has sharply reduced unrest in the Niger Delta.

"The idea of Mend is to form a coalition so that you don't narrow any strike to a particular group," said Nsirimovu, who has long specialised in Niger Delta issues.

"It is just an amorphous thing that all of them belong to. What is happening now gives you a clear impression of what Mend is all about."

Politics also threatens to play a more direct role in the blast investigation.

Timing of the bombings

Authorities have questioned Raymond Dokpesi, the head of an influential Nigerian media group and the campaign manager for ex-military ruler Ibrahim Babangida.

Babangida is viewed as Jonathan's most serious opponent for the ruling party's nomination for presidential elections early next year.

Thompson Ayodele, director of the Initiative for Public Policy Analysis, said he is not yet prepared to say a bloody campaign season lies ahead, but believes the bombings were related to the upcoming vote.

"The timing of the bombings shows that those who are behind it were trying to make a point to the federal government to say, 'Look, we still have the power'," he said.

Jonathan has repeatedly pledged fair elections, scheduled for January but likely to be postponed to April.

But rights activists despair that another electoral period will pass in Africa's most populous nation with too many deaths and not enough discussion of issues, including poverty and woeful infrastructure.

"You can't play politics with people's lives," said Chidi Odinkalu of the Open Society for Justice Initiative. "It's like a contest between one camp and another, yet it's about a country."



Read more on:    mend  |  henry okah  |  goodluck jonathan  |  nigeria  |  west africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
When is a mountain more than just a mountain? 2014-12-18 07:26

When it’s an adventure! A group of Old Mutual employees found out how much is enough courage, endurance and camaraderie to take on Africa's highest peak.

/News
 

13 summer safety tips

Summer time and the burning is easy. Get some great tips to ensure sunburn doesn't spoil your holiday!

 
 

I love summer.24

This sleeping bulldog is you during the holidays
This man's reaction to his Christmas present is priceless!
LOL! Cats destroying Christmas trees
Great tips for surviving the holidays

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off the bestselling books

Save big on the most captivating reads of 2014. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Short term gratification seems like fun at the time; just remember that your boundaries are down right now and there s a tendency...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.