Nigeria: All Fall Down

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October 15, 2010: Two weeks after the independence day car bombings, it's still unclear who was responsible. MEND denies involvement, although someone claiming to be from MEND called in a warning an hour before the October 1st explosions in the capital that killed twelve. Unable to make much visible progress against corruption, the government is under increasing attack from tribe-based rebels in the oil producing districts of the Niger delta, and radicalized Moslem men in the north. The southern rebels are largely Christian, but do not use religion as part of their rebellion.

In South Africa, exiled MEND leader Henry Okah was arrested on October 2nd in conjunction with the car bomb blasts in Nigeria the day before. Okah's diary and other documents were also seized, that indicated he was still involved in terrorist activity inside Nigeria. This included documents from a Chinese arms exporters offering to make illegal weapons sales to Nigerian rebels. A prominent MEND leader, Okah had been freed from a Nigerian jail in July, 2009, after accepting the government amnesty. All charges were withdrawn, but he fled to exile in South Africa a few months later. Okah denies any involvement in the recent bombings, and police now believe MEND has split into factions, some of which are defying orders from MEND leadership, and continuing attacks. Many MEND members feel that Okah is an opportunist, who imported guns for criminal gangs, as well as MEND, and stole a lot of MEND money for himself.

The government claims to have rehabilitated 5,300 of the 20,000 Niger delta rebels who were offered amnesty. But many of these MEND members have returned to crime, especially stealing oil.

In the north, Islamic radical group Boko Haram admitted responsibility for the recent bombing of a police station, and the assassination of religious leaders and government officials. But at the same time, Boko Haram is demanding an amnesty deal similar to what MEND, in the southern oil producing region, got. Boko Haram wants nearly 200 of their members freed from jail, charges against hundreds of others dropped and mosques and other assets returned. Boko Haram wants to be free to practice its radical (Taliban-like) form of religion and local government. Both state and national governments are hostile to this, or any amnesty. The growing Islamic radical violence in northeastern Bono state has led to over a thousand army and police reinforcements being sent.

October 13, 2010:  In the Niger delta, gunmen kidnapped the foreign born headmaster of an oil company sponsored school. Two police bodyguards were killed in the process. Kidnapping is a growing crime problems, most of just for the cash, not to make a political point.

October 11, 2010: In the northeast, near the Chad border, a mob attacked and burned a police station. Islamic radicals were suspected, as Boko Haram is popular in the area.

October 9, 2010: In the northeast, unidentified gunmen murdered a moderate Islamic cleric. The victim had preached against pro-Taliban Boko Haram.

October 3, 2010: The State Security Service (SSS) claimed to have detected and aborted several additional terrorist attacks. But there is still no hard evidence of who carried out the October 1 attacks, or subsequent ones that were apparently planned.

 

 

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