While the whole country still shivers at the news of Tuesday’s killing of about 100 security personnel in Assakyo, Nassarawa State, Street Journal has gathered that incidents that led to the killings had some political undertones.
About 13 truck loads of policemen mobilized from the Lafia Division of the police were on a mission to arrest the leader of the “Ombatse cult” which had mainly Egon people of the state as members. They were also joined by a number of officers from the Directorate of State Security. Findings revealed that part of the mission was to storm the cult group’s shrine on Tuesday night during the initiation ceremony for new members and destroy the shrine after arresting its leader and members.
The policemen however ran into an ambush a few minutes after they left Lafia and only a few of them escaped being killed, leading to speculations that the plan to attack the shrine which was shrouded in secrecy had been leaked to the group.
A Lafia resident disclosed to Street Journal that the whole issue cannot be disconnected from the 2015 elections. According to the resident, the Egons have concluded among themselves that “they are tired of being ruled by foreigners whom they described as migrants from Maiduguri”, apparently referring to the Nassarawa State Governor, Umaru Tanko al-Makura and the emir of Lafia.
Findings revealed that the Egons have already started preparations for the 2015 elections which are still about two years away and the candidate they are endorsing is Senator Solomon Ewuga. The senator, a member of the Congress for Progressive Change which incidentally is ruling in the state has tried his hands on the governorship race thrice. Street Journal gathered that though there is an unwritten agreement that Al-Makura would serve for one term and allow Ewuga to run on the CPC’s ticket, the Egons have already made up their minds that it should be their turn to produce the Governor of Nassarawa State in 2015. It is being insinuated in some places that the clampdown on the Ombatse group is part of the ploy to weaken all structures that may work against the incumbent Governor’s re-election.
Though security operatives are keeping sealed lips concerning who ordered the mission, findings have revealed that for the mission to have involved both the police and the SSS, it must have been in response to pressures from the state executive about the activities of the Ombatse cult.
Street Journal gathered that the Ombatse militia group usually recruited youths, most of who joined out of their own volition. The group was however outlawed late last year after a clash with the Agyaragu Community in December. Ten people, including a traditional ruler were killed in the clash. Soldiers swooped on the shrine, forcing members to relocate from their real homeland in the Nassarawa-Eggon Local Government to Asakkyo.
Residents of Lafia disclosed that though at first, the leaders of the Ombatse group had a few clashes with their new hosts, things soon appeared normal. “Sometimes, we see the militia group marching around Lafia peacefully, putting on black uniforms, not disturbing anyone or causing mayhem and even sometimes, we see would see their leader driving around in his SUV robed with all sort of charms”, a resident disclosed.
Some residents pointed out that the state Government became uncomfortable with the group’s continued existence. It was said that when it was discovered that attacks from Fulani herdsmen did not reduce the strength of the group, the idea of using security agents was conceived.
Speaking on how the policemen were killed, the resident who claimed to have seen the bodies at Dalahatu Specialist Hospital, Shendam Road disclosed that “there were deep cutlass cuts on them there were also stuffs like blue powder on them, they were burnt and were over 100 in number”.
The Nassarawa State Police Commissioner, Abayomi Akeremale’s fate is believed to be hanging as he lost key officers including the Head of Operations in his state command, Mr Mohammed Momoh as well as scores of other officers. Incidentally, Akeremale is said be be due for retirement in two months time. Police sources disclosed to Street Journal that “when the CP heard what happened in Assakyo, he wept”.