Governor denies prior knowledge of Ombatse before November 2012.
The Governor of Nasarawa State, Tanko Al-Makura, has said that he gave Ombatse youth N1 million for refreshments, not N2 million as alleged by the legal adviser of Ombatse, Zamani Allumaga.
Testifying in Lafia before the Fola Gbadeyan-led commission of inquiry into the Alakyo killings, Mr. Al-Makura said he invited the youth to hear their grievances after they blocked the Akwanga-Lafia highway at Nasarawa-Eggon in November 2012.
“There was a protest in November 2012 at Nasarawa-Eggon by some youth who obstructed traffic and held commuters for almost six hours, alleging that the Military obstructed their prayer session at Alogani Village.
“After admonishing the youth leaders, about 15 of them, on the need for peace amongst all citizens, irrespective of religious inclination, and they listened, I felt it was only proper to give them some money for transportation and refreshment since I did not give them lunch,” Mr. Al-Makura stated.
He explained that it was after the encounter that the name Ombatse was first mentioned to him. He claimed he had no knowledge of the existence of the group prior to the November 2012 incident.
Mr. Allumaga had earlier told the commission that the governor gave leaders of Ombatse and Eggon Community Development Association, ECDA, N1 million each when they visited him in November, 2012.
Mr. Al-Makura also dismissed as untrue, the allegation that government failed to heed the warning of Eggon elders, through Ahmed Ubangeri, a former Chief Justice of the state, to postpone the ill-fated operation.
The elders had allegedly asked the state government to allow them meet with the Ombatse priest, Baba Alakyo, on May 9 over the activities of Ombatse.
However, Mr. Al-Makura explained that the Deputy Governor had informed him of the decision of the Eggon elders at about 6 p.m. on May 7, while he was in Jos.
He said when the information got to him, the security operatives were already on their way to Alakyo, adding that before he could act on the information, another call came from the Deputy Governor, about 20 minutes later, informing him of the attack on the security operatives.
Mr. Al-Makura also denied ever ordering for the head of the Ombatse priest as alleged by Mr. Allumaga before the commission.
“Would that be a lawful order to security operatives?” he asked. “I do not know when Baba Alakyo became John the Baptist.”
Scores of security officials, mainly police officers, were killed in May on their way to Alakyo to dislodge the Ombatse members, whom the state believed were threatening the peace and security in the state.
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