Emir: killing of 50 security personnel could have been averted
The Emir of Lafia, Alhaji Isa Mustafa Agwai I, yesterday told the panel probing the killing of over 50 security personnel at Lakyo village in Nasarawa State that it could have been prevented.
Agwai spoke in Lafia, the state capital, when he presented his memorandum to the Judicial Commission of Enquiry probing the carnage and other security breaches in Nasarawa State.
The Justice Fola Gbadeyan-led panel held yesterday’s sitting at the Emir’s palace where it took evidence and cross-examined witnesses.
The monarch said the invitation of Baba Lakyo, the chief priest of the Ombatse cult group, to his palace was to address the cause of the crisis.
According to him, few days before the incident, he heard that the Ombatse Militia Group (OMB) was conscripting and administering oaths of secrecy on innocent people.
He said when he sent the District Head of the area to invite Baba Lakyo to his palace over the matter, the chief priest allegedly said he would only come to the palace if he was instructed by the leadership of the Eggon Cultural Development Association (ECDA).
He said the Ombatse chief priest never honoured his invitation, which was to nip the crisis in the bud.
Agwai said: “The role of traditional rulers has always been to assist the government at all levels to maintain peace, security, stability and conflict resolution. These are the necessary conditions for progress and development in every civilised society.
“In the case of the Lafia Emirate Council, apart from the normal Emirate Council meetings – where issues bordering on the progress and development of the entire Emirate are discussed – we meet every Friday with all the districts, villages and ward heads and senior title holders in the Emirate, where reports from various local leaders are received, discussed and solutions proffered.
“It was during one of such interactive meetings, on February 19, that we received a report on the activities of Ombatse from the village heads of Ungwar Rere, Akurba and Bakin Rijiya.
“They informed the council of a secret shrine operated by Baba Lakyo at Lakyo village, where people are forced to drink a local concoction (medicine) and swear to an oath.
“On receipt of the reports, I directed the District Head in charge of that area to invite the Village Head of Ungwar Rere village, with the ward head of Lakyo, to my palace.
“The ward head of Lakyo appeared before me on March 26, in the presence of some of his traditional title holders, where the ward head of Lakyo was directed to come along with Baba Lakyo.
“A week after, the ward head reported back to me that Baba Lakyo said he would honour my invitation only when he received an instruction from the Chairman of Eggon Cultural Development Association (ECDA) before he would appear before me.
“The Emirate Council viewed the refusal of Baba Lakyo to honour my invitation as very unusual. It is our belief that if the so-called chief priest, called Baba Lakyo, had honoured my invitation and availed himself with my wise counsel, the incident that happened at Lakyo few days after Baba Lakyo’s refusal to appear before me would have been averted.”
The monarch said he was shocked that Senator Solomon Ewuga, representing Nasarawa South, visited Baba Lakyo few days after the massacre without intimating him (Agwai I).
He added: “As if that was not enough, my council, the public and I watched on television a courtesy visit by Senator Ewuga to the priest at Lakyo, where the senator had an undisclosed meeting with Baba Lakyo.
“The Emirate Council frowned at this visit and considered it a breach of protocol. This is because the Distinguished Senator hails from the Northern Senatorial Zone. But neither the Emirate Council nor the Lafia Local Government Area was aware of his visit to Lakyo.”
Agwai noted that there was evidence of a breach of traditional protocol, which resulted in rumour mongering and the inability of the district, the village and ward heads to monitor the movements of people in and out of the villages before the unfortunate incident.
He added: “There is also the apparent infiltration of strange elements into our cultural and traditional cohesiveness whereby it is becoming difficult to control the most active and vibrant component of our society – the youths.
“The erosion of the powers of the traditional authorities in enforcing security of lives and properties in their areas is certainly one of the causes of the present predicament we found ourselves in.
“We also observed that the high level of unemployment in all segment of our societies especially the youths, is one of the factors responsible for negative behaviour generally, especially by the youths.
“The activities of our political class where our people, mostly youths, are misused by them is also a very big contributing factor to the high level of insecurity in our