1062FW: Nigeria independence celebrations marred by blasts
- Oct 1, 2010
Sad that, after 50 years of independence, this is happening to Nigeria – but almost inevitable given the human social and economic devastation wrought by years of exploitative oil extraction and military government. Nigeria has great potential to learn from its mistakes and become a beacon of peace in the 21st century.
Let’s hope it realizes that potential – and do what we can to help, though ultimately it’s up to Nigeria and Nigerians to step up to the plate, right the wrongs, and draw upon the country’s immense human, natural, cultural, and spiritual resources to move forward.
I’ll be in Abuja later this month for the African Alliance for Peace Summit where I’ll be speaking about the academies for peace and the critical role a global network of them can play in helping humanity shift from a culture of violence to a culture of peace.
Michael Abkin, Ph.D., Education and Corporate Affairs Coordinator
National Peace Academy
1 October 2010 Last updated at 09:22 ET
Nigeria independence celebrations marred by blasts
At least eight people have been killed in explosions in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, marring celebrations to mark 50 years since independence from the UK.
Police have confirmed that two blasts outside the justice ministry were caused by car bombs.
Earlier, the militant group Mend (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) had threatened to target the festivities.
Nigeria is a major oil producer, yet most of the population live in poverty.
The bombs went off not far from Eagle Square, where the Nigerian elite had gathered for the official celebrations, but no one was hurt.
President Goodluck Jonathan was inspecting a guard of honour at the time.
'Nothing to celebrate'
The militant group Mend had earlier warned that it had planted several explosive devices. In the e-mail, the group addressed Nigeria's dignitaries saying the country had nothing to celebrate on its anniversary.
Mend is a loose coalition of violent groups from the oil-rich Niger Delta. Most of the group's leaders are observing a ceasefire.
Some ssenior Mend figures are already dissociating themselves from these blasts, but a small faction within the group is dissatisfied with the government's handling of an amnesty process in the Niger Delta.
It is this faction that is presumed to be behind the explosions.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend), a militant group in the oil-rich south, issued a threat on Friday morning saying it intended to bomb the event.
In the message, the group which is demanding a fairer distribution of the country's oil revenues, said there was "nothing worth celebrating after 50 years of failure".
If Mend militants are responsible for the blasts, it would be the first time that the group has targeted the capital.
At least one of the dead is a police officer.
A fireman at the scene told the BBC that 10 bodies had been found.
The BBC's Ahmed Idris in Abuja says he saw bloody footprints at the scene as emergency workers moved bodies into vehicles.
Our reporter says there may have been a smaller third explosion within the parade ground. Security staff said at the time a gun had gone off accidentally.
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