By Ben Agande, Abuja.
Forty eight hours after more than twenty police men were killed in Bama, Borno State by suspected Boko Haram insurgents, Governor Tanko Al Makura of Nassarawa State disclosed yesterday that another twenty policemen were killed last Tuesday in Nassarawa state by a militia group, known as “Ombatse” at Atakio Village along the Akwanga-Lafia road. Ombatse in Eggon language means “time has come”.
Governor Al Makura who disclosed this when he came to brief the vice president on the security situation in his state said the policemen were murdered while on official duty.
He said the policemen were on lawful duty to dislodge the militia group when they were ambushed and killed. The governor said that the group, which had besieged the state, were bent on destabilising the State Government. “This group is causing the commotion and insecurity in order to upstage the government,” he said.
Al-Makura, who told the State House correspondents after briefing the Vice President that the State Government had a year ago dislodged the group. He expressed regrets that the group re-surfaced about a fortnight ago, unleashing mayhem and killing innocent people.
His words: “I am here to meet with the Vice President to brief him about the security situation in my state. Just yesterday, we have a very bitter security problem that has caused the death of some security officers in the state.
“Since January, this thing has not abated and in the past two weeks, it took a total different dimension. This escalated and is causing serious concern for the state. We then decided to hold security meeting to find a way of solving the problem. The solution was to go to the shrine and pick on the cult leader so that the problem will be solved once and for all. But as security operatives were approaching the shrine, unknown to them that ambush had been laid for them, these people attacked them and resulted in the death of more than 20 policemen.
“This is a situation that is so grave and I feel it is very important that I come to brief the Vice President about the security situation and to seek assistance so that we can handle the matter once and for all.
“Already, the group that is from Eggon extraction and called Ombatse has been proscribed since the beginning of this year because of the activities of the members. They go from one place to another, harbouring arms , attacking any area that has any conflict with any of their members. The group is banned and its members are those causing this problem in the state and we feel it is necessary to bring this to the notice of the Federal Government.
“Before now, there were one or two arrests. But as a result of yesterday’s event, I am yet to be briefed on the number of arrests that have been made. Already, I learnt that security operatives are making arrangements to see how they can contain the situation. It is on that point that I will know how many arrests have been made.
“The incident happened in a village called Alakyo about 10km from Lafia, the state capital.
“The position of this militia is unacceptable to the government, already we are taking appropriate steps to see that the perpetrators of this act are brought to book.
That is why I have given the necessary information to the federal level so that by the time we begin to take on these perpetrators, nobody should cast aspersions on the justification” he said.
Also speaking with state House correspondents, Governor Suswam said it is time to be decisive on the security situation in the country.
According to the Benue state governor, “Where people kill uniform people with impunity is totally unacceptable and when there is a situation like that and the security agencies react and people say they are excessive it is not right.
“You know there must be some fears instill in people. The way we are going, if people can look at uniform people and go out and ambush them and kill them in tha manner that it was done, I don’t think that that should be acceptable to anybody no matter the action taken subsequently by the security agencies I would not support a situation where groups, militias or miscreants will target uniform people.
It then means that if the security people now are at threat, it means that we are not protected. So I do not support people who say that security people are excessive at times in the action that they take because they must make sure that such a thing must not repeat itself.
“Where you kill 20 police men by cultist group within the country, I don’t think that should be acceptable and we must be very decisive” he said.
He added that he came to brief the Vice President on the securtity situation in Benue where he alleged there was a serious altercation between the Fulanis and the local farmers in Agatu Local Government which is one of the Local Governments that the Senate President represents “and they almost overran the local government and there was a lot of killings, properties destroyed and I felt that I should come to brief the Vice President who is holding forth for the President”.
He said as a governor, he tries to “be pro-active as much as possible where security issues are concerned to engage the people so that it does not later degenerate to where we will have a lot of killings”.
He said Benue had remained relatively peaceful until that issues with the Fulanis which he said is not peculiar to Benue.
“It is happening across the country and it is also one of the issues that I discussed with the VP and he also has his own perspective to the extent that we think that it should be an issue that should be discussed at the national economic council because for us who are basically farmers, it is killing the economy of the rural populace because people can no longer go to the farms and the ripple effects of that subsequently can only be imaginea.
It is an issue that must be taken seriously”.
He lamented that the entire of the Northern region which is known for farming has been badly affected by the Fulani menace and is threatening the economy of the nation.
“This is an issue that must be treated with all seriousness by all and sundry it is not just an issue that is localized it is a national issue and must be treated as such.
I am still insisting that security agencies must be very decisive it is totally unacceptable anywhere in the world where people target security operatives.
” It happened in Somalia, the government did not take it serious they were targeting and killing security operatives instilling fears in the populace now the security operatives became incapacitated and the rebel overran the country. The same thing in sudan and Somalia” he said.
He added that in Benue we have he added that 10 merceneries with heavy weapons and many rounds of ammunitions were arrested in Benue and they are with the Police now.
“They were arrested by the combine task force of the Police the army and the SSS Iin Benue” he said.