"Government pressured me to implicate Babangida, El-Rufai, others in 2010 bombing" - Charles Okah

Charles Okah, a suspected member of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), blamed for the 2010 Independence Day bomb that killed at least 10 people with many more injured, has written to the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie, saying he was pressured by government to implicate leading opposition figures in the incident.

“At the SSS Headquarters Abuja where we were flown to, blindfolded with our legs and hands bound, my ‘cooperation’ was solicited for something completely different to my surprise,” Mr. Okah, whose younger brother is being tried in South Africa over the same allegation, said in his November 19, 2012 letter from the Kuje Prison in Abuja. “My captors threw me a lifeline; offering me our freedom and a lucrative contract in exchange for false testimony against my younger brother Henry, who is resident in South Africa.

“I was to write a false statement claiming to have been told by Henry about the bomb plot and naming the following persons as his conspirators: Former Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Mallam Nasir El Rufai, Chief Timipre Sylva, and Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan. I bluntly refused.”

Mr. Okah has been in prison custody since 2010 after he was over the incident.

Mr. Okah’s younger brother had also said in a shocking court depositions a few months ago said Mr. Jonathan and his aides organized the attacks in a desperate political strategy to demonize political opponents, and win popular sympathy ahead of the 2011 elections.

“The purpose of the 14 March 2010 bombing in my opinion was to create an atmosphere of insecurity in the Niger Delta where President Goodluck Jonathan at that time, was fighting to oust the governor Mr. Emmanuel Uduaghan whom President Goodluck Jonathan intended to replace with his Minister for Niger Delta, Mr Godsday Orubebe,” Mr. Okah said in a 194-page affivadavit.

“The bombing on 1 October 2010 was a platform for the elimination of political opposition from the north in the form of General Ibrahim Babangida. The bombing of 1 October 2010 was also intended by the President Goodluck Jonathan Government to create anti North sentiments nationwide in order to galvanize support from other sections of Nigeria against other northern candidates in the Presidential elections,” he said.

In his letter to Cardinal Okogie, Charles Okah has now leveled the same allegation against the administration, saying he is being persecuted for refusing to implicate opposition elements as requested by government.

He also talked about the poor treatment he and his colleagues were facing in prison custody.