'President Jonathan, Resign Now' - NPLF
On Friday 1st October 2010 at about 11 a.m., the Federal Capital City of Abuja came under attack by people who identified themselves as members of Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND). As Nigeria and Nigerians celebrated the nation's 50th Independence Anniversary, two powerful bombs were detonated within minutes of each other, few metres away from Eagle Square, venue of the celebration, killing innocent people in cold blood. Official government figures put the casualties at twelve people dead and seventeen injured. Unofficial accounts place the death toll at eighteen while over sixty people were said to be injured.
The attacks took place while the Heads of State and Government of several African and other countries were seated in Eagle Square to celebrate our 50th Independence Anniversary with us and while the attention of the whole world was upon us. It was clearly meant to embarrass the nation and its people and to give the rest of the world the false impression that Nigeria is on the verge of a violent political conflagration ahead of the general elections of 2011. It was also meant to intimidate the international community that Niger Delta criminal gangs have the capability to influence political outcomes beyond their traditional area of influence.
It is regrettable that these bombs were allowed to go off given that the nation's security organizations had admitted that they were forewarned by foreign intelligence organizations and by the bombers themselves. It is also unfortunate that the bombings followed recent changes in the leadership of the nation's first line of defense - the armed forces, the police force and State Security Service .
We in the Northern Political Leaders Forum condemn in the strongest possible terms this callous and barbaric act of cruelty and cowardice, perpetrated by a group of people steeped in the culture of terrorism and unbridled violence. We condemn all those who give them shelter or comfort under any guise and call on all law-abiding and peace loving Nigerians to raise their collective voice against this violent group, its method and motive. We call on the Federal Government and the nation's law enforcement agencies to pursue these common criminals masquerading as militants with all the resources at their disposal and bring each and every one of them to justice for the crime of murder and for taking arms against the State.
We seize this opportunity to offer our condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in this dastardly act and pray for the repose of the souls of their loved ones. We call on the Federal Government to pay compensation to the families of the victims for its failure to prevent this attack in spite of multiple warnings, including several from the perpetrators themselves. We pray for the quick recovery of the injured and call on the Federal Government to, in addition to settling their medical bills, offer them the services of expert counseling in order to assist them recover psychologically from this harrowing ordeal. May this kind of tragedy never be allowed to happen to this country again.
The tragedy of October 1st has opened yet another ugly chapter in the history of our nation whereby, for the first time, innocent civilians and the nation's capital were simultaneously targeted and bombed by a notoriously violent terrorist group. The implications of this act to the security, peace and stability of the Nigerian State are so grave that no matter the motive(s) of the bombers, they must be hunted down, apprehended and punished for their dastardly act. If they are allowed to go unpunished, as they have been in the past, Nigeria and Nigerians may never see peace again as the specter of kidnapping, which emanated from the activities of criminal gangs in the Niger Delta continue to illustrate.
It is on record that the Amnesty Program of President Umaru 'Yar'adua included a definite deadline within which ALL Niger Delta insurgents were to lay down their arms. Any individual or group that failed to take advantage of the Amnesty Program must no longer be allowed to hide behind the guise of militant agitation to take innocent lives and must be considered and classified as terrorist. There is no longer room for semantics over Niger Delta militants and terrorists.
That is why it came as a rude shock to the nation when President Goodluck Jonathan declared, only hours after the Abuja bombs that killed and maimed innocent civilians that MEND, the criminal group that took responsibility for the bombings, was not to blame. Not only that, the President was also quoted as saying that he knew who the bombers were and that they were terrorists, not MEND, a distinction which reveals where the President's sympathies lie. In a curious reversal of roles, the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces who swore to an oath to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria and to protect the lives and property of its citizens has found himself, instead, going the extra mile to absolve from culpability, the terrorist group that claimed responsibility for the attacks. Even more disturbing was the declaration by the President, only hours into the bombing investigations, that he knew who the attackers were. Is President Goodluck Jonathan a closet member of MEND or is there more to the President's curious posture than meets the eye? Just before this statement was due to be released to the media, the answer to the second question began to emerge. The Department of State Security finally succumbed to political pressure from the President himself and followed in the footsteps of the EFCC to target the President's political opponents. On Monday October 5th, we received news that High Chief Raymond Dokpesi , Chairman of DAAR Communications and Director-General of General Ibrahim Babangida's Presidential Campaign Organization, has been arrested by the SSS in connection with the bombings of October 1st. Last night NTA's 9 O'clock news was interrupted, for effect, to broadcast the purported connection between the High Chief, General Babangida's presidential campaign and the bombers in a desperate attempt to validate President Jonathan's hasty investigations and prove his predetermined theory right.
Only this morning, Henry Okah, a leader of MEND, told Al Jazeerah Television that he was approached by the Nigerian Government to prevail on MEND to retract its statement that it was responsible for the attack so that President Jonathan may implicate Northerners who are opposing his presidential ambition in the unfortunate bombing incident. This is another confirmation of our fears that President Jonathan will employ extra-judicial means in pursuit of his ill-advised ambition to contest the 2011 election.
But Nigerians are not fools. They know that MEND does not need anyone's prompting, least of all a person they declared persona non grata only a few weeks ago, to perpetrate its dastardly act. Clearly, the President needs a better, more creative alibi to intimidate and victimize his opponents. We have earlier warned Nigerians to be vigilant; that the targeting of selected state governors by the EFCC was part of a grand design to intimidate the President's opponents and make them submit to his desperate agenda to run for President in 2011. We have been vindicated, alas, at the cost of eighteen innocent citizen's lives.
We would like to state, for the umpteenth time, that President Goodluck Jonathan's desperation to be President again in 2011 can only take Nigeria back to the dark days of President Olusegun Obasanjo's Third Term with all its attendant instability and the wasting of innocent civilians' lives. Now that the President has proven that he is incapable of leading the nation justly and fairly and that he is desperate enough to want to hang mass murder around the neck of unnamed Northerners to achieve his second term, we as citizens of this country have totally lost confidence in his leadership and hereby call on him to immediately resign. If he fails to do so by the end of the week, we call on the National Assembly to commence impeachment proceedings against him with immediate effect. We state, without any equivocation that, as Northerners and as citizens of this country, we no longer feel safe and secure under his leadership.