By Abel Daniel
…Absolves worshippers from killing of Police, DSS officers
LAFIA— The Eggon Cultural and Development Association, ECDA, the umbrella body of all Eggon people in Nasararwa State has questioned the rationale behind the decision of both the police and the Nasararwa State government in sending a large contingent of security men to arrest the 76- year old chief priest of Ombatse, resulting to the killing of scores of police men and 10 other officials of the Department of State Service, DSS, at Alakyo, in Lafia, the state capital.
National President of the association, Mr Chris Mamman who raised this query, however, denied that the 46 police men and the DSS officials who were officially said to have died were killed in an ambush by Ombatse worshippers, saying that the adherents of the religion believed in peace, even as they abhorred immorality among other social vices. Unofficial sources however, put the number of police men killed at 93.
Addressing newsmen, Tuesday, at the palace of the traditional ruler of Eggon (Aren of Eggon), Mamman further expressed concern over the growing state of uncertainty and tension arising from the unfortunate incident on May 7.
“While we condemn the killing, we equally condemn the sending of such number of security personnel on an operation that could have been handled by few people without loss of lives. We roundly condemn the incident that led to the mindless destruction of lives at Alakyo in this age when there are better opportunities and institutions for crisis resolution.
“We condemn the untimely death of policemen and other villagers and commiserate with all who lost their loved ones and property. There is no justification whatsoever for the barbaric killing and wanton destruction that have set Alakyo, in Lafia Local Government of Nasarawa State, and the state backward.
‘Ombatse not violent’
“Ombatse is not a violent movement, and was not involved in the encounter with security operators that went to Alakyo on Tuesday, May 7. I will say it with a louder voice so that those who have phobia problem will understand.
“Ombatse is not responsible for the crisis or killing in Alakyo village. Let me clarify this issue because this is great injustice and conspiracy against the Eggon nation; for one to say it was the Ombatse that carried out the killing of the policemen in Nasarawa State.
“When crisis erupted in Asakio, they said it was Ombatse; when it happened at Agyaragu, they said it was ombatse; at Angwan Alaku, it was also Ombatse.
What is Ombatse?
“What is Ombatse? It is a spiritual movement that holds to a basic tenet of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism or any of those religions. It preaches peace, against violence and immorality. You cannot go and commit adultery with your neighbour’s or brother’s wife. You cannot engage in witchcraft, secret society or anything that involves human blood.
“For God’s sake, if these are the basic tenets of Ombatse, why is it so easy for educated elite of the fourth estate of the realm to be bought over, instead of going into investigative journalism to unravel the truth. But they have chosen to make demonic, a religious group which is out for peace within Eggon and beyond.
“We also lament that this unpleasant and unfortunate incident happened when far reaching measures are being taken by the people to put an end to the long-drawn crisis that has been witnessed in this part of the state since the past two years. It should be stated here that the Fulani and Eggon have since worked out measures aimed at finding lasting peace and the measures are yielding the desired results.
“We call on both the Nasarawa and Federal Governments to urgently take more and far-reaching measures to restore normalcy. We call on the Federal Government to set up a high-powered commission of inquiry to establish the remote and immediate causes of factors that culminated into that unfortunate episode of Tuesday, May 7,” he added.
Mamman, however, appealed to everyone to remain law-abiding and allow peace to reign even as the state government has taken comprehensive and long-term solutions.
“We also caution against criminalizing every Eggon person. We have noticed a situation where every Eggon person is targeted for attack. We hasten to condemn the selective ill-treatment of policemen of Eggon extraction by the Nasarawa State police command. We are not against prosecution of anybody found culpable in the matter but this should not be on the basis that simply because a person is Eggon, he or she is not merely held as a suspect but pronounced guilty.”