The Chief Priest of the Ombatse cult group in Lakyo, Nasarawa South Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, Ala Agu, on Wednesday said that security men that invaded the community were ordered by the state governor, Alhaji Tanko Al-Makura, to kill him, but that his gods did not allow them to succeed.
The 76-year old Agu, popularly called Baba Lakyo, said this while speaking with journalists who accompanied Senator Solomon Ewuga (Nassarawa South Senatorial District) on a visit to the community on Wednesday.
The chief priest, who spoke through an interpreter, 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.”
“It is the governor that asked the people (police officers) to come here and arrest me, cut my head and take my head to him.
“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 am invited, I will go. But he sent people to come and kill me and to destroy Lakyo as a whole. That is just what it is.”
Al-Makura had rushed to the Presidential Villa, Abuja on May 8, 2013 to brief Vice-President Nnamadi Sambo on the security situation in the state, saying that 20 policemen were killed in Lakyo by cultists.
The governor had said that members of Ombatse laid ambush and killed security agents sent to arrest the members in their shrine.
But by the end of the week, the number of security operatives had gradually risen to 65, including 10 operatives of the State Security Services, many of them burnt beyond recognition. An additional 25 bodies were found in a shallow mass grave in the surrounding forests a week later.
Ewuga toured Lakyo community which was peaceful and at calm, except for the sight of burnt vehicles used by the security men, and led reporters to the home of Agu, which represents the “shrine” of the Ombatse.
Agu said he was unhappy with what happened and was apprehensive of what might befall him afterwards.
He however denied ever forcing people to join the group through any initiation or drinking of concoction.
“If I ever opened my mouth to force anybody to take oath, God should punish me”.
He said that Ombatse was an association of Lakyo boys into which nobody was forced to belong.
He said he was ready to honour any police invitation but insisted that nobody had invited him.
“I am grateful for your coming, Senator. I am very, very grateful for your coming. Even if the Senator did not come here, I had intended to go and see him in his house but since he is here, I am very grateful,” he told the senator.
Agu also said that he was in a nearby village when the incident took place only for him to come back to be informed that the governor sent people to come and kill him.
When asked whether the incident had anything to do with the politics of the state, he 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.
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.
Ewuga, while addressing pressmen, said he decided to tour the affected area as a matter of national responsibility, saying he needed to see things for himself since he is also an Eggon man even though it was not within his senatorial district.
But Al-Makura on Wednesday dismissed Agu’s claim that he was never invited for any meeting.
The governor, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Iliya Aliu, in a telephone interview, said it was on record that the head of the cult group did not honour several invitations extended to him.
He said, “It is not true that he was never invited. The Emir of Lafia who is the Chairman of the Nasarawa State Council of Chiefs invited him, he refused to honour it.
“Are Eggon, who is the chief of his area invited him, he refused; the Police, the SSS all invited him before this incident but he refused to honour any of them.
“His followers attacked and killed people in Asakiyo Alago; they went to Arga Migili, Kwadere and did the same.
“No responsible government will sit by and watch such things happen without taking action.
“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?
“In any case, no matter the grievance, no individual or group has the right to kill innocent security officials.
“He and all those responsible must face the consequence of their action.”
The President of the Eggon Cultural Development Association, Mr. Chris Mamman, 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.