In a couple of weeks, it will be one year since Ombatse, a socio-cultural group in Nasarawa state struck, killing 89 security agents. In this interview with AHMED TUKUR, a human rights activist, Comrade Shehu Sani revisits the incident and says the federal government should be blamed for the ugly development, even as he contends that the spirit of the fallen officers will haunt the Nigerian state if their relations are not fairly treated
Ombatse, one year after
The Alakyo crisis is one of the most challenging issues that made events in the last one year, it was a bloody uprising by a cult, it was a tragedy to the people of Nasarawa state, Northern Nigeria and Nigeria as a whole. It demonstrates the level of impunity and irresponsibility on the side of members of that cult and government as a whole. Members of Alakyo and other gangster that belong to that group, represent a force of evil against the Nigerian state.
The inability of the government to take any meaningful action on Alakyo is a demonstration of the ineptitude to deal with impotency and shows the incapacity of the government to perform one of its most important constitutional responsibilities of protecting lives and properties of the citizenry of the country.
The Alakyo crisis exposes and reveals that level of impotency and ineptitude. The revelations coming after the violence expose the fact that Alakyo exist with the knowledge of personalities within the highest level of government. It also reveals the conspiratorial nature of that violence and also reveals the reasons for the impunity.
What the Alakyo violence has been able to reveal also is the very fact that people at highest level of government are working in tandem with that cult group. It is unimaginable for a group to have killed such a number of security personnel for the security agency to come within very few days to say that those who were involved in that killing were forgiven.
I think in a very organized and responsible country, there will an in depth investigation and heads will roll at the highest level of government, but we have seen since the Alakyo incidence is a spiral of armed militia groups unleashing mayhem on rural areas. Our people in the cities are at the mercy of bombers and our peasants in the villages at the mercy of invading gunmen and this could be directly attributed to the very fact that Alakyo and the violence of Ombatse have been condoned by government.
Commission of inquiry
Well, first of all, there is a limit to what Nasarawa State Government can do. More over as a state under the opposition, there is a limit it can go. You can set up a commission of inquiry, come out with a white paper, but when it involves the prosecution and arrest of members of the cult and personalities that are in government, it is all dependent on the federal government to execute such recommendations.
It is federal government that has the police, it is also the federal government that has the courts. So, for you to be charged to court, you must be arrested by the police, for the police to arrest, they must be given directives because they don’t act on their own and the state government cannot give directives to the police.
So I am still hanging the blame on federal government because it is left for them to work and to see to it that the issue is actually addressed by bringing to book all those who are involved. So I will still suggest and advise that federal government should live up to its expectations because what it was trying to do was to avoid stepping on toes.
Would you support state police?
I don’t support the creation of state police because it is very clear the way and manner in which the state governments throughout the country, have mishandled the finances of the local governments. It is a clear indication to the damage to what the state government can do. The way and manner they mismanaged the state independent electoral Commission is also a clear indication to the damage they can do, and the police in the hands of state governments is a very dangerous thing to do because most of the governors are more dictatorial than even the federal government. As much as the president can even accept to be criticized and attacked, the state governors will not take it lightly.
Some governors do not even take it lightly with members of their own state assemblies criticizing them, talk less of ordinary citizens. When we have multiple of police forces throughout the country, we are going to simply have nothing but chaos. Our politicians are not matured enough to handle weapons and by giving them the police, we are simply giving them the mandate to handle weapons.
Families of slain security operatives
Those who died in active duty and died in the service of their nation, and the very fact that they have been killed by this cult group puts the burden and responsibility of their families on the nation and its people. The spirit of those security officers will not rest but will continue to haunt the Nigerian state until compensation is paid and until their family members are well taken care of. It shows the level of indifference on the side of the government on how those who will sacrifice their lives for their country will be abandoned to the point that weeds will grow in their graves.
We are in a country whereby sacrifices are not appreciated and you can’t encourage patriotism and honest service to your country when the families of those who sacrificed their lives are left in hunger, penury and suffering. I will suggest the need for the National Assembly to enact a law for special funds for victims of violence and the possibility of taking care of their families.
Victims of violence could be categorized as people who were killed in active duty or as people accidently or deliberately killed by security operatives or armed groups. So, the National Emergency Management Agency(NEMA) is to respond to national emergencies by providing relief materials but we need to have a separate agency that will look at issues that boarder on victims and their families on how they could actually fare.
Prevention on future occurrence
Violence is a product of breakdown of law and order and when you have a responsive government that is prepared to defend and protect the interest of its citizens, there will be no victim. No country is free from violence, no country is free from police brutality and no country is free from security agents falling victims. But we need to reduce this to the barest minimum by ensuring that those who perpetuate injustice are brought to book and those whose actions contribute to the enormous destruction of lives and properties are also to be brought to book.