Recent reports have claimed that gunmen from Nigeria sped into Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea, and attacked the presidential palace. The government of EG seems committed to blaming Niger Delta-based "sea pirates." Spokesman for the MEND, the largest and best-equipped militant group in the Niger Delta denied involvement, saying, "we were not involved in trying to oust the despot." In a second communication, the spokesman said:
A Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) investigation has confirmed the Nigerian government as the brain behind the failed coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea on Tuesday, February 17, 2009 to install a dissident based in Spain as Head of State. Militants from the Bakassi axis who were recruited for the operation with monetary inducement has given us details of the state sponsored terrorism which involved the Ministry of Defense, National Security Adviser and the Presidency. The Eastern Naval Command Headquarters in Calabar, Cross Rivers state played a major role in the plot as liaison between the government and the Camp commander through a naval intelligence officer in the rank of a captain. The Navy and military Joint Task Force patrolling the area also ensured that the fighters left and entered Nigerian territorial waters unchallenged.
Since the MEND is the only group that might have the capability to make an attack so far from home, and their spokesman has denied involvement, it seems unlikely there was any involvement from Nigerian militants. When militants attacked an oil rig 70 miles offshore it spiked the price of oil tremendously because it showed a high level of capacity by militant factions. If, in fact, Nigerian groups are able and willing to attack a government installation hundreds of miles away, we should take serious heed. Nevertheless, without a plausible motive or tactical capacity, the attack seems unlikely to have come from Nigeria.
It seems more likely that there is some sort of insurgency afoot in Equatorial Guinea that the government would rather blame on foreign agitators than face publicly. The country has been under dictatorial rule for some time, and an argument for internal tension, and a government campaign of misinformation, seem much more plausible.