Sunday, October 17, 2010

Brother of Henry Okah Arrested in Nigeria

Militant leader’s brother arrested


ABUJA--NIGERIA’S secret service has arrested the brother of militant leader Henry Okah a day after a warning was emailed to media that another bomb attack was planned for the capital Abuja, a security source said yesterday.

Charles Okah was arrested in the Apapa district of the commercial hub Lagos on Saturday on suspicion of having helped fund twin car bombings in Abuja which killed at least 10 people near to an independence day parade on October 1, the source said.

Henry Okah, a suspected leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta was arrested in South Africa shortly after the blasts and is on trial in Johannesburg on terrorism charges.

The new bomb warning e-mailed to news organisations including Reuters on Friday was signed Jomo Gbomo, the pseudonym used by MEND to claim the independence day blasts and years of attacks on oil and gas installations in the Niger Delta.

Security sources have said they believe several different authors have at times written the Jomo Gbomo e-mails, including both Henry and Charles Okah.

Henry Okah has said he did not have any involvement in the Abuja attacks.

"We arrested Charles Okah in his Apapa hideout yesterday," a source from Nigeria's State Security Service told Reuters, asking not to be named.

"Apart from using the pseudonym Jomo Gbomo to threaten and cause confusion, he has been mentioned several times by suspects with us now as a source of funds for the blast. He is with us in Abuja," the source said.

Nigeria is a generally peaceful country of more than 200 ethnic groups, but regional rivalries and tribalism bubble under the surface and the bombings and subsequent response by the authorities have become highly politicised.

MEND's claim of responsibility is an embarrassment for President Goodluck Jonathan, the first head of state from the Niger Delta, and has raised tensions in Africa's most populous country as it prepares for nationwide elections next year.

Security experts believe Henry Okah — who accepted a government amnesty last year after gun-running and treason charges against him were dropped — was at one time the brains behind MEND, although he has denied ever being its leader.

Police searched Okah's home in South Africa and found invoices for the purchase of thousands of submachine guns, rockets launchers and anti-aircraft machine guns, but did not find any firearms. — Reuters.

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