One month to the April general elections, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta on Monday warned Nigerians to stay away from political gatherings in Abuja, Lagos and the Niger Delta region.
MEND, which accused the President Goodluck Jonathan administration of unwillingness to address key issues in the Niger Delta, threatened, in an online message to media houses, to attack “political gatherings and meetings of any sort,” and oil installations.
“The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (M.E.N.D) advises the general public in the strongest of terms, to stay clear from all political gatherings or meetings of any sort,” the statement signed by its spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo, said.
The militant group, which made reference to the October 1, 2010 bombing in Abuja, warned Nigerians to heed its warning lest they fall casualties of the threatened attacks.
It said its mission was to, among other things, cripple the nation’s economy and reenact the type of ‘revolution’ that was sweeping through North Africa.
Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Libya, all in North Africa recently experienced popular revolt by their citizens. In Egypt, 18 days of sustained protest by the people forced ex-President Hosni Mubarak out of power, 30 years after he came to power. In Libya, Mohammar Gadaffi is currently confronting the greatest challenge to his 42 years reign with the people’s revolt which commenced since February 15.
On Independence Day last year, twin bombings near Eagle Square, venue of the celebrations marking the country’s 50th independence anniversary, killed at least 12 people and injured many others. MEND claimed the responsibility for the bombings to which it had earlier sent warning alerts.
The MEND alert on Monday reads, “”The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (M.E.N.D) will soon commence with simultaneous bomb blasts and attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta and other strategic locations in Abuja and Lagos states of Nigeria.
“Due to our commitment to avert avoidable loss of lives, advance warnings for immediate evacuation as previously will be issued and a final warning 30 minutes prior to the blasts, after which will follow a statement of claim in line with our modus operandi.
“The government of Goodluck Jonathan has shown its unwillingness to address the key issues of the Niger Delta but chosen instead, to continue doling out bribes to thugs and plunder the resources of the Niger Delta into his presidential campaign while deceiving the world and Nigerians that there is peace in the Niger Delta,” MEND’s statement read in parts.
“Our revolution like our fellow brothers in Northern Africa will start with the crippling of the Nigerian oil industry to flush out all Western oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region and the simultaneous bomb blasts never anticipated in the history of this country.”
On March 3, twin explosions at a Peoples Democratic Party rally in Suleja, Niger State, killed at least 13 people and injured 20 others.
About 18 other people were also said to have gone into coma as a result of the explosions.
Unidentified persons inside a moving 18-seater bus were said to have thrown the explosives into the crowd of PDP supporters at the fenced Government Secondary School, Kantoma.
Most of the injured victims, were members of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigeria Security Civil Defence Corps and other security outfits drafted to the venue of the rally.
Niger State governor, Aliyu Babangida, who was whisked away from the scene by security aides, later announced three days of mourning in the state in honour of the dead.
The MEND is the coalition of militant groups in the oil rich Niger Delta and it had claimed responsibility for a number of attacks on oil installations in the region. It sets for itself the objective of securing the larger chunk of revenue generated from oil to the impoverished region.
In an amnesty package brokered by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua in 2009, member groups in MEND publicly surrendered their arms and renounced militancy such that key voices in the Jonathan administration had said in the past that MEND was dead.