MEND apologises for causing Abuja deaths

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has apologised for causing the death of many people in the explosions which rocked the Federal capital yesterday.

In an email sent to journalists a moment ago, Jomo Gbomo, the spokesperson of the group, said the group “deeply regrets the avoidable loss of lives during our bomb attack in Abuja on Friday October 1, 2010. Our hearts go to the families of those killed who we know were sympathetic to our cause”.

The group said the failure of security forces to heed a warning it had given five days before the attack is responsible for the deaths

“The irresponsible attitude of the government security forces is to blame for the loss of lives. They were given 5 days prior notice which led to the harassment of Henry Okah on Thursday, September 30 in South Africa.”

It also claimed that an hour before the attack, security forces were reminded of the impending violence but failed to act. It said the email received by journalists a few minutes before the explosions was sent only after the one to security agents.

“The security forces were also warned one full hour to the first bomb blast ahead of the general alert sent to the media and told to steer the public from all parked cars which was not done.”

The group’s claim of responsibility for the attacks is coming hours after President Goodluck Jonathan said they were not responsible and blamed the explosions on terrorists.

Mr. Jonathan told an ECOWAS gathering in Abuja today that “What happened yesterday was a terrorist act and MEND was just used as a straw; MEND is not a terrorist group”.

“The Niger Delta people are aware of the government’s noble efforts to assuage the suffering and deprivation in that region,” the President said.

“I am from the Niger Delta, my father’s house is few metres from an oil-well, so nobody can claim to be a Niger Deltan than myself.

“It is erroneous to think that my people who have been agitating for good living will deliberately blow up the opportunity they have now”.

In a related development, Henry Okah, an alleged leader of the militant group, was arrested by South African police today and is being questioned.

On Thursday, Interpol forces raided Mr Okah’s home in South Africa but no action was taken against him. It is not clear yet if he will be charged following his latest arrest.

However, the group has exonerated him of involvement in Friday’s bombings that killed at least 12 people and injured tens of others. “Okah has never been involved in any MEND operations but has always been blamed for every attack which is strange to us,” the group said.