Thursday 9 May 2013

NASARAWA: 55 POLICEMEN, MANY OTHERS KILLED •Gov rushes to Aso Rock, says cultists killed 20 policemen

GOVERNOR Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State has raised alarm over the activities of those he referred to as cultists in his state who he said slaughtered at least 20 policemen in an ambush at Alakyo village, about 10km from Lafia, the state capital, on Tuesday.
He was at the State House, Abuja on Wednesday to confer with Vice President Namadi Sambo on the deteriorating security situation in Nasarawa State and ways to bring the menace under control following the discovery, two weeks ago, of an armed militia group.
This came as Benue State governor, Gabriel Suswam, who was also there to brief Sambo of Fulani herdsmen attacks on villages in his state, advocated a decisive action on armed groups which take the lives of uniformed security personnels.
Speaking to correspondents after the meeting, the Nasarawa governor expressed bitterness over the existence of the cult whose leadership he said was trying to hold the state to ransom by recruiting people, subjecting them to an oath and arming them.
He revealed that a team of policemen met their deaths when they were detailed to storm the shrine of the cult leader with the aim of arresting him but unfortunately, they fell into an ambush and were killed.
According to him, “I am here to meet with His Excellency, the Vice President to brief him about the security situation in my state. Just yesterday (Tuesday), we have a very bitter security problem that has caused the death of some security officers in the state.
“Two weeks ago, we discovered a certain militia group holding arms and carrying out cultist activities in the state. Since January, this thing has not abated and in the past two weeks, it took a total different dimension.
“They have been going for one place to another including churches and taking people from that particular ethnic group to come and take portions that are meant to empower them to do what they want to do.
“This escalated and is causing serious concern for the state. We 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.
“As security operatives were approaching the shrine, unknown to them that ambush has been laid for them, these people attacked them and resulted in the death of more than 20 policemen.”
He said that the situation has become so grave that he felt it was important to come and brief the Vice President and to seek federal government’s assistance to bring it to an end.

“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,”  the governor stated.
Al-Makura also noted that the group, which he said was of “Eggon extraction and called Ombatse,” has previously been proscribed since the beginning of this year because of the activities of the members.
He added: “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.”
The governor maintained that there has been no arrest made before Tuesday’s incident but that security agents were making arrangements to contain the situation.
“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 at the federal level so that by the time we begin to take on these perpetrators, nobody should cast aspersions on the justification,”  the governor declared.
He promised that government would assist families of the victims of the attacks whether or not they were security operatives.
But Nigerian Tribune gathered from Lafia, the state capital that, over 98 people were said to have been killed, 55 of them being mobile policemen, when members of the outlawed Ombatse militia group laid ambush for them on their way to the latter’s shrine at Lakyo village in Lafia East Development Area of Nasarawa State, on Tuesday evening.
Reports from the area indicated that out of 110 security operatives that went to the village with 11 Hilux vehicles, only two vehicles returned. Nine officers sustained various degrees of injury, while 11 came back unhurt. The nine other vehicles were said to have been burnt by members of the militia group. Eight members of the group were said to have been killed during the gun duel.
Informed security sources told the Nigerian Tribune that the Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP, ‘B’ Department, Operation, AC Momoh and his counterpart from the SSS who led the operation also lost their lives during the attack. It was exclusively learnt that the mission of the security men to the shrine was to capture a man who was alleged to have been forcing all Eggons by tribe to join the group in preparation for 2015 elections.
Findings by the Nigerian Tribune revealed that apart from the police and SSS officials, soldiers were also on the entourage. As they were approaching the village, the soldiers were said to have stayed behind with their vehicles, with a view to capturing the suspect if he wanted to evade the arrest.
The incident, according to the witness, who sought anonymity, caught the security personnel unawares, as members of the group, believed to have built water-tight security few kilometers to the shrine, suddenly opened fire on them.
“We also killed them but we lost many officers. Out of 11 Hilux vehicles, only two came back with nine injured. Although, some of our men escaped into nearby bush, we are yet to see them up till this moment, it was a pathetic situation,” a senior police source added.  
As of the time of filing this report, no official figure came either from the state police command or the SSS, but the State Commissioner of Police, Mr Abayomi Akeremale, while addressing newsmen in his office in Lafia, the state capital, on Wednesday, confirmed the attack, saying “I cannot give details now because we dispatched our men to the area this morning and they are still in the bush trying to rescue the injured officers and bring them back to the city.”
At Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital (DASH), Lafia, the nine policemen that sustained injuries are still there and responding to treatment.
It was also gathered that 15 members of Nigerian Civil Defence Corps also died. An emergency security meeting was held at the deputy governor’s office but journalists were not briefed on the outcome of the meeting.
The CP, who addressed newsmen few minutes before the arrival of the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 4, Makurdi, AIG Michael Zuokumor, lamented that “the plan of the command for today (Tuesday) is to inaugurate additional three Hilux vehicles given this command by Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Mohammed Abubakar for patrolling, with a view to ridding the state of crime and criminality, but unfortunately, something else happened which we have to attend to, as a matter of urgency.”
It is recalled that Ombatse, which means the time has come, was dislodged from its base recently by the military personnel in Nasarawa local government area of the state and since then, it has been a cat and mouse game between them and security personnel.

FG asked security agencies to unravel killers of 13 prisons officers
The Federal Government on Wednesday condemned the gruesome murder of 13 Prisons officers and release of 105 inmates from Bama Prison, Borno State.
Government has accordingly asked security agencies to ensure that those behind the act are brought to justice.   
Minister  of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, reacting to the attack on Bama Prisons by suspected Boko Haram sect, noted with grave sadness, the killings of 13 officers of NPS,  including the Chief Superintendent in charge of  the Prisons  in the wee hours of Tuesday  May 9  at the ancient  city of Bama in Borno.
A statement by the Special Assistant to the Minister on Media, Mr George Udoh said “Moro  is seriously worried that the dastardly act was committed only a few months after the killings of some prisons officers  in similar manner by suspected members of Boko Haram sect.

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