Who wants Nigeria’s former President, Goodluck Jonathan dead? This has been the rhetoric question on the lips of Bayelsans, and concerned Nigerians due to records of deadly attempts on his life.
Gunmen had on Tuesday, December 24, attacked the country home of Jonathan, in Otuoke Community under Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
Reports had it that the attack, which occurred around 2:00am, came after Jonathan decided to move to his Yenagoa home at about 12:00am.
The question about who wants the former President dead has arisen because of the deadly attacks on him by unknown gunmen from the time he was Vice-President-elect when on May 16, 2007, his house in Otueke was bombed, to the recent attack on his home before soldiers repelled the gunmen.
During the 2007 attack, gunmen suspected to be on deadly mission bombed Jonathan’s bedroom perhaps suspecting that he was asleep, then being eve of an election.
Luckily, he was not in the house but he wasn’t lucky with his vital documents, including his degree certificates issued him by his former institution, the University of Port Harcourt.
However, the authorities of the University of Port Harcourt, on May 21, 2008, in Abuja, re-issued him with three new degree certificates as replacement for the burnt ones in the bomb attack.
Jonathan himself confirmed that his life was what bombers wanted when he conducted a team of Journalists round the premises of bombed building then that the attackers may have assumed he was in the house and obviously in the bedroom.
In a well planned commando-style of the invasion, the bombers had arrived the compound by berthing their speedboats in nearby Creek to his house and launched the attack targeting the bedroom with explosives suspected to be dynamites. In that attack four policemen were killed.
On that same night, an explosion rocked Barrat Hotel in the state capital, Yenagoa, said to be owned by Deputy Speaker of the State Assembly, Bright Ereware, causing pandemonium as people ran for their lives.
During Nigeria’s 50th Independence day celebration, there were explosions at the Eagle Square.
The explosions came an hour after the main militant group in the oil-rich southern Delta, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), threatened in an email to attack the festivities and warned people to evacuate the area.
“Several explosive devices have been successfully planted in and around the venue by our operatives working inside the government security services,” the email, signed by spokesman Jomo Gbomo, had said. “In evacuating the area, keep a safe distance from vehicles and trash bins.”
Jonathan, who was inspecting a guard of honour at the time, called it a “wicked act of desperation by criminals and murderers.”
Police confirmed then that two car bombs had detonated outside the Justice Ministry in Abuja. A third, smaller explosion hit a venue at nearby Eagle Square, where the President sat with hundreds of Nigerian and foreign dignitaries.
After diligent investigations by security agencies, the bombing of Eagle Square was traced to South Africa based Henry Okah, an Ijaw from Amassoma in Southern Ijaw in Bayelsa and the militant leader of the defunct Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND.
Okah was later convicted in a South African court and sentenced to 24 years in jail.
He was found guilty of 13 terrorism-related charges over twin car bombings during Nigeria’s independence day celebrations in 2010 and sentenced 24 years imprisonment.
At least 12 people were killed and 36 others injured. Okah led a group said it was fighting to help Niger Delta residents gain a greater share of the oil wealth from their part of southern Nigeria.
The court established that Okah was the former leader of MEND. He also received a 13-year jail term for threats made to the South African government after his arrest in October 2010 but this runs concurrently with his 24-year sentence.
Okah’s father died and was buried on January 20, 2007, in Amasoma, Bayelsa State (the same town of former Governor Deprieye Alamieyesiegha, while Jonathan was his deputy. He had repeatedly denied any involvement in the bombings. But Judge Neels Claassen found that the state had proven Okah’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
On the December 24, 2019, gunmen attack on Jonathan’s home, no report of arrests had been by made by the Police more 24 hours after the incident.
However, it was learnt that the Military authorities have vowed to hunt down the assailants.
Recently, the political atmosphere in Bayelsa has been highly tense since the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the only party ruling in the state for the past 20 years lost to the All Progressives Congress, APC, due to many factors, which include the alleged high-handedness of the outgoing Governor Seriake Dickson, who excluded prominent party leaders like Jonathan and his wife.
In the recent altercation between Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and Governor Dickson, Wike alleged that Dickson had been showing uttermost disrespect to the former President and his wife, Patience and that his political miscalculation led to the loss of the party in the election.
Wike on December 24 called on Dickson to resign from the PDP so that the party could be rebuilt to return to its winning ways.
Significantly, about 24 hours after the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, announced that APC Governor-elect, David Lyon won the election, the leaders of APC in the state, Timipre Sylva, Minister for Petroleum visited Jonathan in his house in Otueke.
The reception of Lyon and other APC leaders in his home at Otueke, has been interpreted by some PDP faithful as a direct show of betrayal by “joining enemy” party to celebrate their victory at the time they are licking their wounds of defeat.
An analyst suggested that the attack in his country home might be political, as militants who erre angry that the lifeline they had been depending on for the past 20 years had been unceremoniously severed.
Meanwhile, the Delta Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, has condemned in strong terms the attack on Jonathan at his Otuoke home in Bayelsa.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, on Tuesday in Asaba, the governor said the incident was disturbing and and unwarranted, noting that it was more condemnable because the former President was a peace loving man who always preached peaceful political engagements.
He stated that Jonathan, had been a great patriot and a promoter of peaceful politics, and did not deserve to be attacked in his home town or anywhere else.
“I join men of goodwill in condemning the attack on former President Goodluck Jonathan, who has been a great patriot and exemplary leader. It is pathetic and shameful that unknown gunmen could attack a leader who had on several occasion said his ‘ambition was not worth the blood of any Nigerian’.
“On behalf of the government and people of Delta, I condemn the attack on our dear former President.
“I also commiserate with him on the unfortunate demise of a gallant soldier who lost his life in the attack. I call on the police and other security agencies to fish out those behind the attack and bring them to justice. I also urge the Federal Government to beef up security around the former Nigerian leader,” Okowa said.
Meanwhile, concerned Nigerians are worried that as a former President of Nigeria who has served in the highest capacity, it is expected that his people and security agencies should not allow any harm befalls him.
Who wants former President Goodluck Jonathan dead?
By Okafor Ofiebor