Nigeria Leader’s Rival Decries Bombing ‘Witch Hunt’

Supporters of former Nigerian military ruler Ibrahim Babangida accused the authorities on Tuesday of a witch hunt after the head of his election campaign team was questioned over bomb blasts in the capital Abuja. Raymond Dokpesi, the director of Babangida’s campaign for 2011 presidential elections, was questioned by the secret service on Monday after last Friday’s car bombs near a parade to mark Nigeria’s 50th anniversary of independence. Dokpesi was released without charge late on Monday on administrative bail, meaning he could be recalled for further questioning by the State Security Service (SSS), officials said.

The attacks were claimed by the Movement of the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the main militant group in the nation’s southern oil heartland, but Jonathan — who is from the region — has said the group’s name was used as a cover.

Former MEND field commanders and scores of their followers, among the thousands to have accepted amnesty last year, met Jonathan in the presidential villa and condemned the bombings.

“We are not part of the incident … MEND is not involved,” said Government Tompolo, one of the group’s former commanders.

MEND has always been factionalized and some die-hard militants have dismissed those who took amnesty as sell-outs.

Prosecutors in Johannesburg on Monday charged Henry Okah, long a senior figure in MEND who now lives in South Africa, with conspiracy to commit a terrorist act and the detonation of explosive devices in Abuja. His lawyer denied his involvement.


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