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Presidency Debunks Okah's Claim On Abuja Bombings

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San Francisco, Oct 05, (THEWILL) – The presidency today responded to a claim made on Al Jazeera by Mr. Henry Okah, detained factional leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) that a close associate of President Goodluck Jonathan called him a day after the Independence Day dual bombings to denounce the MEND statement on the attack to allow the presidency blame the north for it.

In his prison interview with Al Jazeera, the militant leader said: "On Saturday morning, just a day after the attack, a very close associate of President Jonathan called me and explained to me that there had been a bombing in Nigeria and that President Jonathan wanted me to reach out to the group, MEND, and get them to retract the earlier statement they had issued claiming the attacks.

"They wanted to blame the attacks on northerners who are trying to fight against him [Jonathan] to come back as president and if this was done, I was not going to have any problems with the South African government. I declined to do this and a few hours later I was arrested. It was based on their belief that I was going to do that that Jonathan issued a statement saying that MEND did not carry out the attack," the alleged mastermind of the bombings which killed more than 10 persons and wounded scores.

But the presidency has called Okah’s claim a ‘diversionary rhetoric.’

Ima Niboro, Special Adviser to the President, Media and Publicity, in a statement said: "Mr. Henry Okah who has been openly charged for masterminding the terror attacks against his home country has been quoted by Al Jazeera Network as claiming that an aide of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan called to ask him to blame the October 1, 2010, bombings on Northern politicians.

"This of course is an outright lie, and we challenge Okah to name the President’s aide that spoke to him on the subject. There is an ongoing investigation on Okah’s alleged involvement in the bombings in Nigeria. In South Africa, he has already been charged to court. He should face the charges, and stop making frivolous claims.

"There is no question that Okah is a drowning man determined to pull others down with him, and there is hardly any purpose to be served by joining issues with an accused mass murderer. Okah is a man who has been known to say one thing and do another, and we are not at all surprised by his diversionary rhetoric," Niboro said.

Nigeria’s secret police (SSS) had said it detained nine persons following the bombings including the director of the Ibrahim Babangida Campaign, High Chief Raymond Aleogho Dokpesi who it released on administrative bail after more than 15 hrs of questioning at the SSS headquarters in Abuja.