It is apparent that the dust raised by the recent, senseless deployment of security officers to their untimely death in Alakyo, Nasarawa State, has refused to settle. The unfortunate incident claimed the lives of no fewer than 75 policemen, including a dozen operatives of the State Security Service, SSS. The Police and the SSS had put the number of their dead or missing officials at 56. They comprised 46 police officers and 10 SSS operatives.
It was gathered that no member of the Mobile Police Force, PMF 38 Squadron in nearby Akwanga, Nasarawa State, also known as “Tiger Squadron”, who were dispatched to dislodge the Ombatse militia group, survived the raid. A top police officer recently said that apart from the 61 MOPOL officers that were deployed from Akwanga, the Police is yet to see many others mobilised from the MOPOL base in Lafia, including the men of the State CID. So the claim that only 56 policemen died cannot be true.
Abayomi Akeremale, the Commissioner of Police who ordered the deployment ‘at midnight’, has since been replaced with Umar Shehu, who has resumed. But news emanating from the state has continued to paint a gory and grisly picture of what must have actually transpired. It was also learnt that Mohammed Abubakar, the Inspector-General of Police, had summoned the officer in charge of the base to the Force Headquarters.
The Police High Command was also said to have begun an investigation into allegation that the Nasarawa State Government paid a huge amount of money to the state police command to influence the massive deployment of its officers for the ill-fated operation against the militia group. Findings indicated that the 2015 race for governorship position in the state informed the operation against the militia group.
Never in the history of barbarism in Nigeria has a large contingent of security officers been driven to their ‘cheap death’ such as this. The issue of money changing hands between police commanders and state governors has been a source of irritation to the public and also a great embarrassment to the force itself. But whenever this ugly episode rears its head, the hierarchy of the police has always been quick to cover up the misdeeds of their men with ridiculous explanations, distortions and half-truths.
As for the issue of 2015 being at the centre of the whole crisis, those who alluded to this, and they are many, including my humble self, believe that it is not far from the truth. This argument is more germane when the revelation that has so far come from the major ‘dramatis personae’ in the crisis is pieced together. They are Al-Makura, the governor of the State, and Alla Agu, the chief priest of the Ombatse cult in Lakyo, Nasarawa South Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.
The chief priest recently said that security men that invaded the community were ordered by the state governor to kill him. Seventy-six-year-old Agu, popularly called Baba Lakyo, spoke through an interpreter when Solomon Ewuga, the Senator representing Nasarawa North Senatorial District in the Senate, visited him. Agu said the security operatives did not come to arrest him, but to kill him “and cut off my head and take it to the governor”.
According to him, “it is the governor that asked the people (police officers) to come here, arrest me and cut my head… When they came, because they were themselves drunk, my god did not allow them to come to me and they died on the way. The question I asked is, ‘Has the governor ever invited me and I refused to go?’ If I’m invited, I will go. But he sent people to kill me and to destroy Lakyo as a whole. That is just what it is.”
Contrary to reports that the police invaded the village after he shunned their invitation, the chief priest has pooh-poled the governor’s claim by saying that he had never been invited by any of the security agencies. Although Lakyo is now peaceful, besides the carcasses of burnt vehicles used by the security men, Baba Alakyo said he was unhappy with what happened and was apprehensive of the fate that might befall him afterwards. He also denied ever forcing people to join the group through any initiation or drinking of concoction. He also said that he was in a nearby village when the incident took place.
Asked whether the incident had anything to do with the politics of the state, Baba Alakyo 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.” He said that Ombatse was an association of Lakyo boys into which nobody was forced to belong. According to him, it is even more saddening that he is being linked to the incident, especially when he knew nothing about what happened to the policemen.
The governor, however, dismissed Baba Alakyo’s claim that he was never invited for any meeting. The governor, who spoke through Iliya Aliu, his chief press secretary, said it was on record that the head of the cult group did not honour several invitations extended to him. He said, “The Police and the SSS invited him before this incident but he refused to honour any of them. It was after he refused to answer all of these invitations that the State Security Council met and decided that he should be arrested. Even their name, Ombatse, means it is our turn, their turn for what?”
On his own part, Chris Mamman, the President of the Eggon Cultural Development Association, the umbrella body for Ombatse, said the only way to get to the root of what happened at Alakyo was for the Federal Government to set up a judicial commission of inquiry.
I totally agree with Mamman that only a high-powered judicial commission of inquiry can unravel the hidden truth of this case. Such committee should get to the root of this heinous crime that has now become an issue to be tossed around by Al-Makura and Baba Alakyo.
It is obvious that the issue involved here is between the governor and Baba Alakyo as well as the mad race for 2015 election or re-election. It is all a pointer that the 2015 race will be as deadly as ever if the fever has really caught up the polity this way like hurricane in harmattan.
Now that it is very clear that the governor might have been economical with the truth, especially with the large number of security operatives involved in the midnight raid as well as the issue of money changing hands. These are weighty allegations strong enough to keep the judiciary commission of enquiry on their toes to unmask the culprits.
Even whether Akeremale has retired or not, he must also be made to face the music if he is found guilty or complicity in the entire horrible saga. All those directly or remotely connected should face the law at the levels of their involvement. This is not the time to sweep matters of national shame under the carpet. The cops cannot die in vain.
However, we should take cognizance of the fact that the governor belongs to one of the opposition parties and so the government at the centre should not see this as an opportunity to witch-hunt him in order to shove him out of office. Also, if the claim of the chief priest is true but I strongly doubt this, the government can enlist the assistance of his ‘god’ to root out the Boko Haram insurgents ravaging the northern part of the country.
At least, if Baba Alakyo’s god can wipe out such a frightening number of security agents within a twinkle of an eye, he should be able to engage Boko Haram insurgents in a matter of minutes or hours.
Mr. Agekameh, a security sector news magazine publisher, writes for Premium Times from Lagos.
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