Nigerian media mogul arrested after bombings

2010-10-05 07:18

Authorities arrested the chairperson of a former military dictator’s presidential campaign in connection with dual car bombings in Nigeria’s capital that killed 10 people.

Raymond Dokpesi is the owner of the Africa Independent Television network, which is one of the largest in Africa’s most populous nation. He also chairs the presidential campaign for President Goodluck Jonathan’s greatest political threat in the upcoming primary for Nigeria’s ruling party, Ibrahim Babangida.

The allegations against Dokpesi will test whatever political power Jonathan has managed to amass in his five months in office since the death of his predecessor, President Umaru Yar’Adua. Dokpesi has previously accused Jonathan’s supporters of being behind threats to kidnap his family, a charge Jonathan’s office denied.

Officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to talk to reporters, claimed there were links between him and the former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend), Henry Okah, who is currently jailed on terrorism charges in Johannesburg in connection with Friday’s bombings.

Speaking about Dokpesi’s arrest yesterday, Babangida’s campaign said: “His family is worried, and deeply concerned for his safety, health and his well-being.”

The arrest puts a sudden and clear political turn on the investigation into the bombings that took place during celebrations to mark Nigeria’s 50th anniversary of independence from Britain.

Nigeria’s electoral commission has asked for permission to delay the upcoming presidential election by several months, warning that a January poll date wouldn’t give workers enough time to conduct a new voter registration drive.

Okah’s lawyers, who has been living in Johannesburg since last year, say he has denied any involvement in the bombings.

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