Written by Obinna Akukwe
Since the Ombatse Cult of Nasarrawa State murdered over one hundred Nigerian Police and State Security Service personnel on manhunt for the head of Baba Alakyo , Governor Al-Makura had pretended that he is not aware of his complicity in the matter. To the best of my knowledge, Ombatse Cult was formed as a response to the constant harassment, murder and rape of Eggon tribesmen by Fulani Herdsmen, and it took the fetish potency of a Muslim medicine man, Laye Ahgu, popularly known as Baba Alakyo, for the Fulani to beat a retreat and leave the Eggon people to live in peace.
This fetish potency made the 76 year old Baba Alakyo popular that people recourse to him for spiritual healing and deliverance. The Eggon people of Nasarrawa state including Christians, Muslims, Pagans, atheists in their midst revere the medicine man as alternative protection against a failed state. Therefore, Ombatse cult is Nasarrawa people’s fetish alternative to failed justice and security. This same lack of confidence in state protection and justice led to the formation of Bakassi boys in Aba and Onitsha in 2001. The fetish Bakassi killer group used juju means to pursue , arrest and kill armed robbers and those who allegedly used witchcraft to kill others. By the time they descended on Onitsha and Aba cities of Nigeria, lots of criminals disappeared while numerous others were killed. Robbery reduced by 90 percent in the two cities until politicians hijacked and used Bakassi boys to hunt and kill opponents and dissenting views.
Politicians from the Eggon tribe have severally confirmed that Ombatse has Christians and Muslim adherents and sympathizers including Labaran Maku, present Minister of Information. Governor Al-Makura was said to have been taken to Baba Alakyo by Senator Solomon Ewuga when the former was desperate to become the Governor of the State. Al-Makura was said to have promised Baba Alakyo that he would rule for one term and make way for an Eggon man in 2015. Based on this promise, Baba Alakyo signaled his people to support Al-Makura and also fortified him with charms so that he can defeat the electoral malfeasance of the ruling PDP and the then incumbent Governor. To the surprise of electoral pundits, opposition CPC won in Nasarrawa States while they failed in their major strongholds of Kano,Kaduna, Katsina, Niger,Bauchi .
Al-Makura was said to have confided in the same Senator representing the zone, Ewuga of his intention to go for a second term, a proposition Baba Alakyo was said to have rejected. The issue of Nigerian politicians dragging people to shrines is not new. Former Governor of Anambra State, Chris Ngige was dragged to Okija Shrine to swear oath of allegiance and surrender of State funds to the family of a presidential aide under the distant approval of former president Olusegun Obasanjo. Former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia State dragged the incumbent Theodore Orji and some of his aides to the same shrine to swear oath of perpetual ‘yes man’. A picture of Governor Theodore Orji wearing undies at Okija Shrine is still all over the internet. Therefore, the Nasarrawa situation, despicable as it is, is not strange in Nigeria’s brand of democracy.
There is a wide belief among Eggons that the refusal of Baba Alakyo to endorse his second term plot made Governor Al –Makura to desperately seek means of breaking the fetish oath he swore so that his tenure extension beyond 2015 can be successful. There is an allegation that there was a powerful female juju priestess from Mali (others claim the woman is from Igbirra tribe) allegedly used by the Hausa-Fulani community in Jos to neutralize the fetish potency of Berom indigenous community. Al-Makura was said to have contracted this woman to visit Alakyo and neutralize the powers of the Ombatse cult. The said woman walked naked towards the town, encountered success as earlier attempts to either apprehend or cut her with machete, knives, spears and gun failed. The Ombatse people had to send distress calls to Baba Alakyo and after using a few hour old dog for incantations, the charm of the woman was destroyed. The boys captured and severed the head of the Juju woman, amidst jubilation.
With the death of the woman, the witchcraft kingdom where she belongs allegedly wanted her head so that they could crown a successor and Al-Makura was mandated to either bring her head or that of the person that killed her to avoid repercussions. The Governor, in order to escape the wrath of another witchcraft kingdom, and to use the same occasion to destroy the powerful Ombatse cult, with the head of Baba Alakyo severed and brought to him as evidence, in the order of Biblical John the Baptist, deceived security agents to embark on a sacrificial journey. It was in the process that over one hundred personnel were killed .Baba Alakyo, giving sketchy insight into the bloody manhunt told newsmen that ”It is the governor that asked the people (thugs in police uniform) to come here and kill 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 even though I was not around and they died on the way. The question I ask is; has the governor ever invited me and I refused to go? But he sent people to come and kill me and to destroy Lakyo as a whole. That is just what it is.”
Another incidence that boosted the confidence of this Ombatse Cult is the alleged congratulatory message some elders of Plateau State sent to Baba Alakyo over the successful murder of the strange juju woman. According to sources, the juju priests of Jos and surrounding villages had always referred to the activities of a strange woman as responsible for the series of defeats they suffered in the hands of Hausa-Fulani indigenes of Jos during the bloody religious riots of Obasanjo and Yaradua regimes. Some Plateau State elders are planning to understudy the secrets of the Ombatse cult with the intention of applying the formulae to Jos crisis. This disturbing plan by Plateau elders from Berom, Anaguta and Afizere tribes is as a result of mounting insecurity and inability of the state to curb the activities.
Innocent members of the State Security Services and the Nigerian Police Force were shepherded to fight a cause that is of no concern to them, a cause they were not properly briefed about. A cause they would probably have declined if the underlying truth was laid before them. This calls to question the ease with which politicians use security officials to settle political scores. If the SSS and the Police had actually taken time to ponder over the security reports, they would have discovered that the intelligence they relied upon to carry out the operation was biased and wrongly analyzed. Politicians have been known to frame people with reports in order to crucify them. It is true that Ombatse cult was forcing some people to adhere to their fetish oath, but the reason for that ill fated operation was not to stop the oath but to destroy obstacle to 2015 elections.
Governor Al-Makura should be held responsible for wasting the lives of personnel of the Nigerian Police and SSS in a vindictive attempt to obtain the head of his erstwhile medicine man. The SSS should be blamed for not acting on their good judgment by withdrawing their personnel from the attacks when they got feelers that something is fishy somewhere. The Police Commissioner should take blame for allowing self to be pressurized into deploying personnel for an operation even when reports showed that the attack is already compromised. Why he embarked on such operation few days to his retirement is a mystery. The army personnel initially billed to follow in the operation were said to have backed out when they couldn’t justify the reasons for the attack.
The Nigerian State, electoral umpires like INEC , judiciary and other organs saddled with ensuring that people’s votes count should also take blames because if the electoral processes are flawless and the courts are ready to return all stolen mandates, people like Baba Alakyo will have no political patronage and relevance. Al-Makura’s manhunt for the head of his erstwhile juju man, Baba Alakyo, led to the death of unsuspecting security men; he should stop grandstanding and apologize to a traumatized nation while laws to stop public officials from surrendering our collective mandate to fetish cults should be enacted to prevent another re-occurrence of such stigmatizing mortality.