A new twist has been added to circumstances leading to the brutal killings of security operatives in the remote Alakyo village in Nassarawa State, as the chief priest of the Eggon ethnic group’s deity, Ombatse, Ala Agu, popularly known as “Baba Alakyo”, yesterday declared that his “god” was responsible for the killings of the policemen and not an ambush by Ombatse adherents as popularly bandied.
The Ombatse leader stated this yesterday in the Eggon ethnic dialect through an interpreter. The spiritual head spoke when Senator Solomon Ewuga representing Nasarawa North, who led some select journalists, visited Alakyo village for an on-the-spot assessment of the security situation. He said that he did not know how the security operatives died even though he was informed that they were instructed to come and kill him.
The Ombatse chief priest added that he was in a nearby village on the day of the attack. Baba Alakyo also boasted that he was ready to honour any police invitation but claimed that nobody had invited him.
“When they (security operatives) came, because they were themselves drunk, my god did not allow them to come to me and they died on the way,” the priest told journalists in his house in Alakyo on Wednesday.
Baba Alakyo further claimed that Nasarawa State governor Tanko Al-Makura sent security operatives to “behead” him but he was saved by his “god”.
According to Baba Alakyo: “I am grateful for your coming, Senator. I am very, very grateful for your coming. Even if the Senator did not come here, I had intended to go and see him in his house but since he is here, I am very grateful.
“It is the governor that asked the people (security operatives) to come here and arrest me, cut my head and take my head to him.
“The question I ask is, has the governor ever invited me and I refused to go? But he sent people to come and kill me and to destroy Alakyo as a whole. That is just what it is.”
The chief priest also denied forcing anybody to be initiated into Ombatse or forcing people to drink any fetish concoction as widely reported. “If I ever opened my mouth to force anybody to take oath, God should punish me,” he stated.
On the reported political undertone of the attacks, he said: “If you are talking about politics, it does not bother me. I don’t even understand Hausa language. Politics is not for me because I am not a politician. Politics is for politicians but I hear that the time for politicking has not even come.”
According to Nassarawa state government sources, Ombatse which it tags a “cult” had on May 7 killed 56 security operatives – 46 policemen and 10 personnel of the State Security Service – who were part of a team sent to arrest the leader of the group.
Senator Ewuga told newsmen that his decision to tour the affected area was because the incident bordered on a “matter of national relevance”.
The president, Eggon Cultural Development Association (ECDA), Mr Chris Mamman, reiterated his earlier call for a federal government judicial commission of inquiry to unravel the true account of what occurred before and on the ill-fated day.
LEADERSHIP counted eight charred police vehicles at the entrance of Alakyo. The village is largely agrarian with no sign of government presence. Twenty mud houses with no electricity and pipe-borne water were seen. It has a two-room dilapidated primary school that belongs to the United Baptist Church.
Ombatse (meaning “Time Has Come”): A Profile
Going by a local monitored report, little was known of Ombatse’s existence before 2011. Shrines of Eggon origin, where the adherents go for initiations and worship, have existed since time immemorial and have been passed on from one generation to another.
The shrines have played host to politicians, businessmen, athletes, artistes and other persons of African descent for a long period, further inquiries have shown. Many say politicians across Africa have always poured in to seek powers, especially at election periods.
Ombatse, Eggon for “time has come”, is said to be born out of these traditions handed to the Eggons by their ancestors.
Little is known about Baba Alakyo, the 72-year old chief priest. Same for other leaders of Ombatse, especially as the government outlawed the group.
ECDA national president Chris Enva Mamman speaks for all Eggons. The 1984 graduate of Sociology, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, became the Eggon cultural leader in September last year, but the association was formed in 1972.
Eggon Leaders Fuelling Ombatse Insurgence – Al-Makura
Nasarawa State governor Tanko Al-Makura has blamed the incessant cases of ethnic insurgency in the state by the Ombatse militia group on the irresponsible dispositions of some Eggon leaders whose tacit defence and justification of the insurgency has given the public impression of their implied endorsement of their actions or, worse still, probable sponsorship.
Al-Makura wondered why no prominent leader of Eggon nation has come forth to condemn the barbaric act that was visited on the over 100 policemen and their families on May 7, 2013, in Alakyo village which left over 90 of them dead.
The governor made this remark when he played host to members of the former Lafia Division Elders Consultative Forum who paid him a courtesy call in his office to commiserate with him on the unfortunate Alkyo incident.
He said violence is not a potent means of achieving any viable political goal which largely depends on divine provision and the will of the people.
He lamented that the leadership of the Eggon Cultural Development Association, ECDA, has been prevaricating on how to seek a final solution to the insurgency, saying even when the paramount ruler of the Eggon nation, the Aren Eggon, HRH Bala Angbazo, invited the high priest of the Ombatse group, Lega Agu, to find a way of resolving the security dilemma he shunned the invitation.
Speaking earlier, the leader of the delegation, Hassan Mohammed Liman (SAN), blamed the culture of impunity being witnessed in the state on the failure of government and the relevant security agencies to implement the recommendations of the previous commissions of inquiry set up to investigate preceding Ombatse incursions in the state.
Liman, who warned of an imminent food shortage if the sporadic communal violence in the state is not addressed, called on Governor Almakura to promptly ensure that the recommendations of the judicial panels of inquiry on Assakio and Agyaragu communal unrests are fully implemented. He also called on the Nasarawa State government and the high command of the Nigeria Police to make sure that the perpetrators of the Alakyo killings are identified and dealt with to restore public confidence and serve as a deterrent to would-be insurgents.
No, it is not true – Eggon spokesman
But in his reaction over the matter, the president-general of the Eggon Cultural Development Association, ECDA, Mr Chris Mamman, said the allegation was untrue and malicious because the umbrella body of the Eggon people was among the first to condemn the killings and send a condolence letter to the governor. The government barred its airing by the state-owned media houses only to turn around now and use it against them.