What is the origin of Ombatse group?
The Ombatse is a spiritual tradition which was handed down to the Eggon people 100 years ago. We have not been hearing of the group because of the advent of Christianity and Islam, but the decadence in our society prompted this generation to go back to the hills to cry to our ancestors for the resurrection of the Ombatse. This movement started in 2002 and by 2006, the group had positioned itself and had members.
How did the killing of security operatives happen?
I was not there, but I will tell you the truth. This is a community whose only road is about five metres wide, which cannot be passed at the same time by two vehicles. The community lacks government presence: no water; no electricity and many other things. There are about five villages before Alakyo and they are all Eggons. 70 per cent of the populations have never seen mobile policemen before, so, to see vicious-looking people with guns entering the village, jumping down from vehicles and shooting tear-gas sporadically shocked them and that was what led to the crisis. If you go to an unknown territory, even if you have a gun, for how long are you going to keep killing? We don’t know how many rounds of ammunition they fired before these people rebuffed. I will advice the government of Nasarawa State and Nigeria to allow the truth to prevail, instead of looking for scapegoats. Don’t let us personalise what happened. Let us use what happened to learn from our mistakes.
Who actually killed the security operatives?
The Eggon nation has always been truthful. We are loyal and peace-loving citizens of Nasarawa State and Nigeria. We have never started a fight. Although we have been involved in a series of crises in the past, we never at any point fought anywhere. Every tribe in the country has its culture and tradition. The Ombatse leadership is structured such that its high priest is Lega Agu, popularly known as Baba-Alakyo. I have started it clearly that the fact that a pastor or reverend was molested by some miscreants does not mean they did it on behalf of Ombatse. This group is a spiritual movement which you cannot force anybody to join. Even if you want to join, you have to undergo a three-hour education on the rules and regulations before you can take the oath of membership. It is easy for people to use diversionary tactics to take the minds of Nigerians away from the source of the problem by linking a peaceful group to the incident of May 7. If Ombatse was involved in the crisis, the members would have either been sick or dead by now because it is not in their character to engage in violence. Unfortunately, no journalist reported that some members of Alakyo community were killed. After the invasion of Alakyo, I got distress calls that three people had been killed. So, if you are concerned about the death of the security men who are constituted to protect us, what about the villagers, because the casualty figure would be higher on the part of villagers? They were going there to arrest a 76-year-old man, as they claimed. Does it mean the Eggons don’t have a traditional ruler or constituted authorities? By this attitude, the Nasarawa State government has no respect for its own traditional ruler. If the government says, ‘bring this man,’ I would bring Baba-Alakyo within 24 hours. Our paramount ruler, who has been contacted or the local Eggon chief in that community to bring this man for interrogation as to the concoction he is giving the people. This should have been done. I sent delegate to Baba–Alakyo that some boys are forcing people on your behalf and he said those boys are not acting on his order and he wants these boys to be arrested and prosecuted.
The main practice of Ombatse is based on the laws in the Bible. Thou shall not kill; thou shall not convert your brothers’ property; thou shall not join secret society or witchcraft, and thou shall not sleep with your brother’s wife or engage in actions that are detrimental to the greater goal of a community.’ These are the basic tenets of the Ombatse. Anybody who knows the Eggon nation very well would know that for some years now, secret societies were so prevalent and people had to go back to their ancestors and cry unto God, asking what to do to eliminate these social vices.
Who started it and what led to its creation?
The Ombatse’s structure is not hidden. The leader of Ombatse is called Zachariah Kigbu. The leadership has posted several advertorials in some daily newspapers, stating the position of the group. Their legal adviser is Mr. Zachariah Alumaga. They have gone round, stating the aim of Ombatse because it is not responsible for violence. It is not everybody at Alago community that belongs to Ombatse. Ombatse is everywhere. They have places of worship. They go and sit like churches and mosques where the worshipers are taught to abhor violence. They don’t carry guns, but when the need arises, they use cutlasses or knives to defend themselves. I heard that a good number of weapons were returned. This is to tell you that Eggon people are not interested in violence. If they could get guns free and return them, then, that shows that they are not violent. There was another report of a large number of weapons in Baba-Alakyo’s house. For God’s sake, if that man fires a gun, he would certainly fall down. This man cannot walk 200 metres without stopping to breathe. Somebody who hardly gets a three-square meal has a large number of weapons? This is unthinkable! He had sent word that he was coming to the palace on Thursday before the incident happened on Tuesday.
What risks has the group posed to the society since it started its crusade?
How do you mean?
Are you considering apologising for the killing of the security operatives, bearing in mind that they were obeying order?
How do you worship?
Is it true that group’s devotees cannot be killed by bullets?
People are now comparing Ombatse with Boko Haram because of the recent gruesome killing of the security personnel. What is your take on this?
What are the objectives of the group for the 2015 general election?