Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Nigerian Terrorist Attacks - Accusations and Recriminations

Recent events in Nigeria are saddening.  On the 50th anniversary of the country's independence, the government decided to throw a big bash (not that there is anything to celebrate in Nigeria, except perhaps the criminality and corruption of politicians, government officials and their business associates who help them perpetrate the crimes and hide the loot).
The British intelligence agency had alerted British citizens in Nigeria and the Nigerian government about a potential October 1 attack days before, and in fact, had prevented its invited dignitaries from attending the celebrations in Abuja on October 1, 2010.  Based on this intelligence two days before the attacks, the Interpol had searched the home of Mr. Henry Okah, a Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) arms supplier living in South Africa.

The bombs, whose explosions had punctuated the events of October 1 in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) were claimed to have been planted by the notorious Niger Delta militant group, MEND, who had sent emails and text messages to the Nigerian Security Agencies, the BBC, and other News agencies claiming responsibility.
The smoke had barely settled when President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan made the puzzling announcement that MEND was not behind the attacks despite the emails and text received from them.  Experience and history of this kind of attack anywhere in the world shows that it takes more than a few hours to make the determination of culpability, and even then it is often a law enforcement agent, and not the president, that makes such announcements, typically after weeks or months of careful investigation. It begs the question of the veracity of Mr. Jonathan's claims and absolution of MEND in spite of their claims to have carried out the attacks.

Mr. Okah has since been arrested and was said to be in complicity with the group that planted the explosives.  Mr. Raymond Dokpesi, the campaign director general of one time Nigerian military president, retired General Ibrahim Babangida, who is Mr. Jonathan's most formidable adversary for the Presidential elections, was also arrested and claimed to be in contact with Mr. Okah via text messages and phone days leading up to the October 1 attacks.  Curiously though, Mr. Dokpesi was released after interrogation, indicating that the claims may be spurious.

Mr. Okah, through an interview with Al Jazeera claimed not to be involved in the attacks and in fact had been contacted by an associate of Mr. Jonathan's to announce that MEND was not responsible for the attacks hours before Mr. Jonathan made that strange announcement absolving MEND.  He further claimed that Mr. Jonathan's associate on the call had essentially told him that if he did this, he would be a free man.

It is even more baffling as members of MEND were shown in the creeks on an Al Jazeera interview less than 48 hours before the blasts, engaging in paramilitary exercises and flagrantly denouncing the Nigerian government and professing their resolve to keep fighting in the Niger Delta.

The questions now are a) Why would the President of Nigeria absolve the militant groups even as investigations had barely begun?  b) Is Mr. Jonathan using the attacks opportunistically to denigrate his political foes and thus win the sympathy of Nigerians?  c) Could members of the Babangida camp be in bed with Mr. Okah, or in fact are his sponsors?

It should be easy to establish any connection between the Babangida camp and Mr. Okah if one exists.  Since the British had some intelligence on the attacks before they happened, sifting through these should shed some light on the investigation.  Following the money trail if indeed there was any funneled to Mr. Okah for the attacks should lead to the sponsor.  If all the claims made by Mr. Jonathan however are false, then Mr. Jonathan and his associates are perpetrating a crime at least as heinous as the October 1 attacks.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

James Ibori Arrested in Dubai

Fugitive Ex-Governor of Delta State, James Onanefe Ibori has been arrested in Dubai reports reaching Nigerian Politics Blog confirmed.  Mr. Ibori is widely believed to have financially bankrolled the candidacy of the late Umaru Yar'Adua for President in 2007.  As a result of this, he wielded a lot of influence over the late President Yar'Adua, so much so that not only was he able to evade prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for gross acts of graft and money laundering, he was able to manipulate the removal and eventual sack of its stellar chairman, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu. Mr. Ibori who is also wanted in the UK for money laundering of millions of pounds supposedly looted from the coffers of his state in Nigeria, would be extradited to Nigeria to face trial for his crimes said the EFCC chairman, Mrs. Farida Waziri.

Mr. James Ibori has had a criminal record since the 1990s when he was convicted for shoplifting along with his girlfriend (now wife) Theresa Nkoyo Nakanda on January 25, 1991 at the Isleworth Crown Court in London.  Ibori, who worked as cashier at a home improvement store, Wickes was found guilty of helping Ms. Nakanda, who worked as shop-hand steal merchandise from the shop.  Both were sentenced to two weeks imprisonment and fined 750 pounds.  In 1992, the same Ibori was convicted for credit card fraud by the Clerkenwell Magistrate’s Court in London and fined 800 pounds. Ibori left England and moved back to Nigeria sometime shortly after and shuttled between Lagos, Warri and Abuja to try to make ends meet.  In 1995, a magistrate court in Bwari, FCT convicted Mr. James Ibori for grand larceny for stealing building materials.

With a talent for criminality, Ibori somehow managed to ingratiate himself with associates of Major Hamza Al-Mustafa, former Chief Security Officer of the late Nigerian dictator, General Sani Abacha.  Soon he was in the inner circle of the Abacha security and hit-squad
.  He in fact along with Al-Mustafa co-owned Diet Communications, publisher of The Diet newspaper, which they used to infiltrate the Nigerian news media in the hey days of the Abacha government.  Ibori was an informant to the General's intelligence network and was reputed in some circles to have played a vital role in the infamous assassination of National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) chieftain, Pa Alfred Riwane by the Abacha goons on October 6, 1995.  In bed with the Abacha killing apparatus, Ibori is said to have amassed a small fortune with which he rigged and won the governorship of Delta state in 1999.
Ibori’s arrest by the Interpol in Dubai yesterday is a welcome development.  Rather than being extradited to Nigeria, Ibori should be extradited to the UK to face the music, because he is unlikely to get what he deserves in Nigeria, from where he fled and whose law enforcement agents Mr. Ibori seems to have in his pockets.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Goodluck Jonathan Dissolves Executive Council

The news of the dissolution of the executive cabinet by the Nigerian Acting President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan comes at a time when most in the country have watched with chagrin the nauseating and puerile vaudeville the Nigerian political environment has become. For months, President Yar'Adua was absent from the country and said to be undergoing medical treatment in Saudi Arabia while remaining incommunicado with all of his direct reports in the Nigerian Executive Council including his Vice President to whom he failed to transfer power.

Last month, frustrated by Mr. Yar'Adua's absence and the intrigues carried on by his closest official associates and purportedly his wife, the Nigerian congress decided to apply extraordinary methods to the extraordinary situation to formally transfer power to Jonathan in a yet contentious and arguably unconstitutional resolution. In the penumbra of this flux, Dr. Jonathan's legitimacy has been variously questioned, least of all by Mr. Yar'Adua's scroungers, who have made it difficult for Jonathan to effectively take charge. There have been varied insinuations and innuendos as to how the Acting President should conduct himself lest he transgresses against the powers that be in Northern Nigeria to whom the Presidency belongs for the next six years because of the arcane and asinine logic informing the "zoning of the presidency" by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Yar'Adua's and Jonathan's party.

It is refreshing to see Dr. Jonathan finally take charge. He needs not only to dissolve the Executive Council, he needs also to look at the various government parastatals and agencies which are peopled by Yar'Adua loyalist scroungers who may want to sabotage the efforts of the Acting President.