The Presidency on Thursday alleged that members of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta made attempts to kill President Goodluck Jonathan on two occasions.
It said on the two instances, members of the group launched “murderous assaults” on places where the President was present.
The Presidency made the allegation in a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, in which it warned the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to be weary of the group’s recent endorsement of his candidature.
Although the Presidency did not disclose when and where the two attempts were made on Jonathan’s life, it will be recalled that the group launched an attack near the Eagles Square venue of the nation’s 50th independence anniversary in 2010.
Jonathan and some visiting Heads of State were present when bombs were detonated near the venue.
Abati said the Presidency had noted with amusement, the vituperation against Jonathan by “the renegade faction” of the group headed by the convicted terrorist, Henry Okah, in a statement issued to endorse Buhari.
He said the latest assault on the President by Okah and his stooges did not come as a surprise, but rather an expected one.
The statement read in part, “While we thank all people of the Niger Delta, including the former militants whom MEND claims to represent, who have already disassociated themselves from the statement issued by the faceless Jomo Gbomo and reaffirmed their unflinching support for President Jonathan’s re-election, we will like to state that the latest assault on the President by Henry Okah and his stooges did not come as a surprise to us at all.
“It was very much to be expected, coming as it did from an individual and group who have never hidden their vengeful personal animosity against the President and who have even gone to the extent of launching murderous assaults on venues at which the President was present on two occasions.
“It is most regrettable indeed that rather than show remorse for the terrorist acts against his fatherland for which he is now rightly serving a term of imprisonment in South Africa, Henry Okah continues to pursue a pointless personal vendetta against President Jonathan who continues to advance and protect the interests of the people of the Niger Delta which Okah and his group threatened with their misguided actions.
“The vituperation against President Jonathan in the MEND statement endorsing General Buhari are mischievous, baseless and deliberately styled to denigrate the good works of the President.”
Abati said it was a known fact that Jonathan played a significant role in ending militancy and insurgency in the Niger Delta.
Under the President’s watch, he claimed that the destruction of oil facilities and incessant kidnapping and killing of expatriates in the Niger Delta waterways have become a thing of the past.
He added that the attempt by Jomo Gbomo’s MEND to rewrite history by tarnishing the person of Jonathan for selfish, pecuniary and political gains would amount to an exercise in futility.
The presidential spokesman said all patriotic and right-thinking Nigerians must consider an endorsement from a convicted criminal and his group who harbour evil intentions against the unity and progress of their country as “a poisoned chalice.”
He claimed that Jonathan would never have accepted such an endorsement from terrorists and renegades.
“The President therefore advises General Buhari not to place any stock on his purported endorsement by the renegade faction of MEND which is led by a convicted and unrepentant terrorist with whom no leader who truly means well for Nigeria should be associated,” he concluded.