Survivors of the clash between the Ombatse ethnic militia and Assakio in Alago community in Lafia local government area of Nasarawa State have narrated how they escaped death.
In spite of the condemnation trailing the seeming insensitivity of the federal government -- its inability to check the excesses of the Ombatse ethnic militia -- in the two days after the group laid siege to Assakio, an Alago community, security men are yet to be deployed to the area.
LEADERSHIP findings revealed that the attack which started about 7am on Friday continued unabated through Sunday with the Ombatse militia taking their time to reduce the town to rubble. Victims of the assault, who were able to escape to safety across the borders of neighbouring Plateau State, said that Hilux vans were seen conveying jerry cans of gasoline and other combustibles, which were used to set homes and business premises ablaze.
One of the victims, a headmaster in one of the primary schools in the area, who sought anonymity said, "I ran away with the short snickers I was wearing and crossed over to Plateau State for safety with my family. We saw vans delivering gasoline to the militia and in addition they sawed any trees in front of our houses which were made to fall on our houses to completely destroy them. " Giving his account, a police officer who rushed from Niger State on hearing of the fracas to rescue his family said passing through Assakio was like scaling a ghost town and wondered when the dwellers would be able to rebuild their dwellings again and restore their lives to normalcy.
"The whole of Assakio town is completely destroyed. In fact, in the previous attacks the Assakio Main Market was spared but this time around the whole market has been completely burnt down," he said.
Narrating her story in Lafia, having fled from the farm with her two kids, a middle-aged Tiv woman, whose identity cannot be revealed, said she was on her way to the farm with her two children when she heard of the assault on their community and fled through the bush to Lafia for safety.
"I still don't know the whereabouts of my husband. I have been trying his phone number since yesterday but it's not going through," she said.
Although military men were said to have been deployed to the area, they never engaged the Ombatse militia who continued to carry out their activities with reckless impunity.
In a reaction, the first civilian governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, added his voice to the condemnation of the federal government's tacit connivance by allowing the killing of innocent men, women and children to go on as if we are living in a state of nature. He said through deliberate inaction government has allowed the Ombatse militia to continue their reign of terror even when they would have stepped in to nip the continuing violence in the bud.
Senator Adamu, who expressed his resentment at the nonchalant attitude of the federal government, said such signal is capable of sending a wrong signal to other ethnic and terrorist militias, thereby setting a regrettable precedence. He wondered why, four months after over 70 security operatives were brutally murdered while carrying out their constitutional duties, the federal government is behaving as if nothing has happened. He also noted that the Ombatse saga is purely political. There is nothing cultic about the Ombatse, he said. They are a group of misguided youths whose activities government has refused to tame.
Only last week, the Nasarawa State government said the federal government has shown laxity in dealing with the Ombatse criminality.
But when LEADERSHIP visited the state command of the Nigeria Police yesterday evening, hordes of mobile policemen were hanging around the premises of the command while the military men deployed to restore peace in Obi LGA were said to have gone to Agwatashi in Obi LGA, and Keana LGA without confronting the Ombatse militia.
3 killed, houses burnt in fresh Nasarawa crisis - Police commissioner
Meanwhile, the Nasarawa State police command has claimed that three people were killed while many houses were burnt during a fresh communal crisis in the state.
The commissioner of police, Nasarawa command, Mr Shehu Umar, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lafia yesterday that the clash was between suspected members of Ombatse and Alago groups in Obi LGA of the state
Shehu also said that the command had drafted a team of security personnel to the area to restore normalcy.
"Three persons were killed while many were injured during the clash, but so many houses that we cannot give account of for now were burnt," he said.
Nasarawa violence: HURIWA faults Maku's appointment as defence minister
But the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has faulted President Goodluck Jonathan's appointment of information minister Labaran Maku as "supervisory" minister in the Ministry of Defence.
HURIWA, in a statement made available to LEADERSHIP, called for a probe by an independent judicial commission of inquiry on Maku's alleged roles in the Nasarawa violence so as to assuage the bottled-up emotions of certain persons who are aggrieved.
Again, the human rights group condemned what it tagged the "piecemeal approach" adopted by both the federal and Nasarawa State governments in the Nasarawa violence linked to the local militia, Ombatse. The violence claimed 30 lives at the weekend.
The statement read in part: "Although for now, the remote linkage of the serving information minister Mr Labaran Maku to the ongoing bloody violence in his home state of Nasarawa is still mere conjectures and speculations, but the federal government has failed to investigate clinically and professionally, using the services of tested and trusted serving Supreme Court of Nigeria justices and independent security and forensic experts, the remote and immediate causes, circumstances and individuals fingered for being responsible for the ongoing killings and inter-ethnic upheavals in Nasarawa State; therefore it would be hasty and preposterous for President Jonathan to assign the very strategic defence ministry to Maku who for now is alleged to be a party, rightly or wrongly, in the violence tearing his state apart and which is linked to the politics of 2015 governorship."
Alakyo Killings: Former CP, DSS boss to appear before panel today
In a related development, former commissioner of police, Nasarawa State command, Akeremale Abayomi and the former Director of State Services, DSS, in the state, Mohammed Haliru, will today appear before the Justice Joseph Fola Gbadeyan, led commission probing the controversial circumstances surrounding the killings of over 100 security operatives in Alakyo village, Lafia on May 7, 2013.
The chairman of the commission disclosed this last Thursday evening, shortly after concluding its six weeks hearing during which 23 memos and several witnesses were presented before it.