Nasarawa Killings: Ombatse goes to court!

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By Abel Daniel

The much anticipated report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry probing the May 7, 2013 massacre of security operatives in Alakio, Nasarawa State has been partially released following the commission and Governor Tanko Al-makura’s response to an affidavit filed by the legal adviser of Ombatse group, Zachary Zamani Allumuga.

In the suit filed by the legal adviser, he sought for reliefs on the abuse of the group’s  fundamental human rights and an injunction to stop the commission from submitting its report and the state government from receiving the report and releasing the White Paper.

The governor and the commission seem to have fallen into the Ombatse legal adviser’s trap as they have shown proof that they have been served the affidavit and responded swiftly to the issues raised by Allumaga.
In a counter affidavit filed by the secretary of the commission, Abubakar Sadiq Ishaq, who doubles as the Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Affairs in the Office of the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, the commission accused Ombatseof perpetrating evil which held the state to ransom.

Abubakar, who declared that he was working under the authority of his chairman and other members of the commission, disclosed that the commission received a total of 22 memoranda and found Ombatse  culpable of the offences leveled against it.
“That I know as a fact that a total of 22 memoranda were received by the commission and out of these numbers of the memoranda, six came from Ombatse group said to be represented by one Zachary Zamani Allumuga the applicant”, he said.

“That I read the supporting affidavit by the applicant and the memoranda submitted by all other persons, groups and/or communities affected by the crises that led to the setting up of this commission and i know as a fact that the said memoranda received revealed that the Ombatse group proscribed by the state government is opposite of what the applicant (Allumuga) claimed the group represents as deposed in paragraph 5,6,7,8,9,10,12,13 and 14 of the said supporting affidavit of the Ombatse.

Maiming, looting
“That I know as a fact that the memoranda received from various communities and persons that were attacked by Ombatse showed that the group is an ethnic militia that engages in killing, maiming, looting and dangerous acts that are inimical to good governance, peace, and security of Nasarawa state”.
The commission’s secretary stated that despite the proscription of Ombatse, the group continued to unleash terror, mayhem, killing and destruction of lives and properties”.

He described the suit filed by Ombatse  as useless as, according to him, the group cannot “demonstrate any wrong done to or likely to be done to the applicant by the commission to necessitate the action filed against the commission”.

In a second counter affidavit filed by the Permanent Secretary of Planning Commission,
Suleiman Muhammed , who was the then Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health when he represented the governor at Alagoni Hills on February 2, he deposed that he was authorized by Al-makura and the Attorney General of the state to respond to Allumaga’s suit.

He countered the claim made by the Ombatse legal adviser that the group is out to promote peace and cleanse the ills of the society saying the group is an “ethnic militia that engages in killing, maiming, looting, and doing other dangerous acts that are inimical to the good government, peace and security of the state”.

Responding to the allegation raised by Allumuga that Al-makura’s representative was at their gathering after its proscription, the Permanent Secretary said he represented the governor at the occasion because they were informed that the group was ready to turn a new leaf.

The Nasarawa government also employed the services of a law firm, J.S Okutepa, SAN, and company to respond to the grave allegations raised against the state governor and the commission at the state High Court of Justice.
Okutepa, SAN, urged the state High Court to dismiss the application filed by Ombatse legal adviser seeking for redress of the abuse of their fundamental human right.
He declared that the Ombatse group “has woefully failed to make out a case under the Fundamental Human Right Enforcement Procedure Rules, or any other law for that matter to be entitled to any of the reliefs sought”.

The legal consultant also said Ombatse lacked substantial evidence to seek relief from court.
Reacting to the commission and the governor’s counter affidavit, the legal adviser of Ombatse, Allumuga, said they pre-empt the report of the commission.

The legal adviser also disclosed that the rationale behind his suing the governor and commission was the injustice perpetrated by the commission’s chairman during the proceedings as he gave instance of how the chairman shielded the governor over the alleged one million naira gift given to him and other members of Ombatse during a visit to Al-makura.

He  added that the conduct of the chairman and members of the commission made him lose confidence in the report of the commission.
Allumuga also debunked the governor’s claim that the presence of his representative at Alagoni hills on February 2, 2013 was to reintegrate the group back to the society, saying the representative was at the prayer ground to promise them logistics that would aid their activities.

He added that a video clip would be produced in due time to substantiate his claims.
On the issue raised by Okutepa that Ombatse is not a registered group hence cannot sue or be sued, Allumuga said the court would determine its status.

Ombatse group had on October 20, 12013 filed a case at the High Court of Justice of Nasarawa State against the state governor, the Attorney General and the Judicial Commission of Inquiry probing Alakio killings and other related matters.
In the suit, the group opposed its proscription saying Nasarawa State notice No.4 of 2012 made by the governor is illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.

According to Allumaga, the rationale for their assertion is because neither he nor any member was invited to be heard before the proscription was pronounced.
He declared that by virtue of S. 40 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, Ombatse has the right and freedom to assemble freely and to associate with other persons.
The group is seeking N500 million for the breach of its members fundamental human rights.


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