Nigeria to charge ex-militant’s brother over bombs: official

ABUJA — Nigeria’s intelligence agency said on Tuesday that the brother of an ex-militant implicated in this month’s deadly car bombings along with four others would soon be charged over the attacks.

A statement on behalf of militant group MEND, meanwhile, repeated a threat from last week to carry out a new attack in the capital Abuja, but gave few further details.

Authorities allege Charles Okah, brother of ex-militant Henry Okah, was among those behind statements issued on behalf of MEND under the alias Jomo Gbomo, intelligence agency spokeswoman Marilyn Ogar said.

Henry Okah has been in custody in South Africa, where he lives, since the day after the October 1 blasts that killed at least 12 people and authorities accuse him of playing a key role in the attacks. He denies the allegations.

“Charles Tombra Okah, one of the known users of the name Jomo Gbomo, and four other suspects would be charged to court accordingly,” said Ogar.

“These five suspects will be charged to court because it has been confirmed that they have direct links to the bomb blasts of October 1, 2010.”

Asked when they would be charged, she said “shortly.”

Ogar also provided further details of the investigation, claiming authorities had established that the independence day car bombs had been prepared in the oil hub of Port Harcourt.

However, she did not provide details on how the cars would have been transported to the capital Abuja from Port Harcourt, which is a distance of more than 600 kilometres (375 miles).

Ogar said authorities had identified “the individual at whose residence in Port Harcourt the vehicles were wired for detonation and from where they took off for Abuja.”

She said they had also identified the suspect who drove and coordinated the vehicles brought into Abuja and the person who “directly coordinated the bombings with Henry Okah.”

In addition, she said authorities had established who had “confirmed to his accomplice that he had completed the job immediately after the bombings.”

Charles Okah was arrested on Saturday at his Lagos home, security sources and his wife have said.

An email on behalf of MEND — the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta — signed by Jomo Gbomo warned of the October 1 attacks about an hour before they occurred. Another one later claimed responsibility.

On Friday, a message was sent in the same manner on behalf of MEND warning of a new attack in the capital.

A statement on Tuesday said “we hereby repeat our warnings to the residents of Abuja, the heart of the country, and to all persons who will be interested in attending the political campaign organised by the president, Goodluck Jonathan.”

“Out of security concerns, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta MEND until further notice will no longer entertain any enquires,” it said. “Henceforth, we will release to the media only warnings and statements of claim.”

It added that “the arrest and detention of our respected brothers of the land and the assassination of their character has become a great concern that cannot be ignored.”

MEND claims to be fighting for a fairer distribution of oil revenue in the deeply impoverished Niger Delta, but it has also been seen as an umbrella organisation for criminal gangs.

It is believed to have splintered, particularly over a government amnesty offered last year that saw thousands of militants sign up. The amnesty has been credited with greatly reducing unrest in the Niger Delta.

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