The death of the leader of Ombatse group in Nasarawa State on Saturday, November 15, 2014 did not put to rest the culture of Eggon ethnic group.
His call for unity among the Eggon people was welcomed. People trooped to Alakyo, a tiny community in Nasarawa State to keep a date with their deity.
He was killed but his second in command, Danjuma Omeh took over. Danjuma is from Mada Station Development Area of Nasarawa Eggon.
Just like the strict adherence to their culture caused uncertainty in the polity of Nasarawa State during the time of BabaAlakyo, Danjuma is believed to have kept faith with their deity. The state government has outlawed the group.
The ritual is called Ombatse, meaning, “Time has come.” The group seeks to cleanse the Eggon nation of ills, including adultery, fornication, theft, killings and drunkenness to pave way for the culture of morality and chastity.
Ombaste is said to be a spiritual deity that was passed to the new generation from their forefathers, Azhili.
Eggon sons and daughters who joined the Ombatse always visit and pray for success, good health, and financial breakthrough. This spiritual practice, which hitherto had been silent and spoken about only in whispers, became a political rallying point to the Eggon people in their pursuit for political power.
It was championed by Baba-Alakyo because he accepted to reintroduce the deity in his home country, Alakyo. The group came to limelight prior to the 2015 general elections which led to serious political unrests in Nasarawa State.
A former Police Commissioner in Nasarawa State, Mr. Abayomi Akeremale,
on receiving reports of how a cultural organization, Ombatse, were said to be abducting people from places of worship and forcefully administering an oath of allegiance to the Eggon deity, swung into action to avert it.
According to the then Police Commissioner, there was a large caché of illegal arms stockpiled at the shrine where Baba-Alakyo administered the oath.
The Police's first report appeared to be contrary to the activities of the Ombatse as their call was against stealing; cheating, betrayal and that one must not sleep with his brother's wife.
"These were the condition given by the Ombatse leader to all that must practice the Eggon culture," an Eggon man, Istifanus Luka said.
There were fears that for once, a tribe in the Middle Belt region which has suffered long years of political and identity crisis was uniting in the buildup to the 2015 general election.
Several attempts were made by government officials to arrest the Ombatse leader which led to the killing of over 74 security operatives on May 7, 2013. Head of the security agencies involved in the operation had said they forgave the perpetrators. A comment many viewed to have confirmed the illegality of the operation.
There was search even among the security forces of someone with strong spiritual experience to help in arresting the Ombatse leader.
Sophisticated weapons were approved for the security forces to arrest the alleged deadly leader who locals described as unarmed civilian endowed with strong spiritual powers.
"I can tell you categorically that we were not using guns to protect our leader, Baba Alakyo. We move round our communities with machetes bow and arrow to wade off external attacks."
"Let me tell you what actually happened on that fateful day when they came to arrest Baba Alakyo. He was not even in his house when they came to arrest him. His "God" fought for him and they turned their guns against themselves," one of the boys told our reporter.
A virgin girl from one of the African countries was allegedly hired to deal with Baba Alakyo. She was killed by the Ombatse group. She was said to have been so powerful that the group had to cut her head. There was demand for the head of the virgin from interested parties which created a crack in the leadership of Ombatse.
Alakyo community which lacks social amenities such as electricity, roads, schools, hospital and had no mobile phone network was raided several times by security forces seeking to arrest the Ombatse leader.
The operation was said to be illegal by security experts that questioned the rationale behind sending over 70 security men with sophisticated weapons to arrest an individual.
The search for Baba Alakyo was still on when he granted an interview to Elanza Magazine, alleging that there were plans to kill him. The interview which was published in November 2014 seems to be an eye opener concerning several interests.
Circumstances which led to the killing of the Ombatse leader have emerged. Crack among the Eggon political elites who were both not ready to let go their personal interest of vying for the Nasarawa State governorship played a major factor.
Even though both Sen. Solomon Ewuga and Hon. Labaran Maku declined comments when contacted by Pulse, findings revealed that Baba Alakyo, a Muslim Eggon man was not supporting any individual to emerge as the governor of Nasarawa State. His only interest was for an Eggon man to emerge governor.
As a Muslim, with a house close to a Mosque where people in the community always gather to read the Koran, Baba Alakyo does not pray in the Mosque with traditional attires.
To his disciples, it was a weak point his enemies took advantage of. Baba Alakyo was said not to have travelled out of his community to meet a politician. His second in command, Danjuma Omeh had done so. Omeh had visited the then Minister of Information Mr. Labaran Maku.
On different occasions, Maku was said to have given Omeh money and even bought cars for him.
Apart from Maku’s interest to become governor, other interested candidates were Senator Solomon Ewuga who had let go of a possible return to the Senate and Dr. Yusuf Agabi. They were all Eggon people interested in becoming governor.
"The group's loyalty was divided. Some to Omeh, some to Baba Alakyo. But the state agents penetrated Omeh to get the head of a young virgin sent to kill the Ombatse leader," a resident who gave his name as Bulus Omeh said.
Getting the head of the hired virgin was the first success story for the interested parties, it was gathered.
"Rumor has hit the community that there was an attack in a neighboring community, Shamgba and boys guarding the Ombatse leader went. The said attack was untrue and as the boys were returning, they saw Alakyo community burning. They saw Baba Alakyo lying."
"Some of us advised the community not to allow the boys’ access to Baba. And till today, what the boys know is that Baba Alakyo disappeared to another community. We did this to avert destruction as at that time," said an Eggon leader
who doesn’t want his name mentioned.
He said the attackers made effort to cut the head of Baba Alakyo but they couldn't. "Baba Alakyo's boys were very dirty and they could see danger and laid ambush. That was why they were not allowed access to Baba Alakyo's remains.”
Barrister Zachary Zamani Allumaga, Legal Adviser of the Ombatse group confirmed the dead of Baba Alakyo and a village head of Alakyo. He blamed the killing on herders.
Pulse gathered that Baba Alakyo was killed around 2:30 am on Saturday, November 15, 2014, and was buried at about 9am on Sunday.
A source told our correspondent that prior to the killing of the Ombatse spiritual leader, a gift had already been handed over to him by a lady allegedly from the American Embassy. She claimed she was on assignment to the community.
The source said they suspected the gift to be a gadget that kept track of Baba Alakyo up to the time he was killed. "No one is privy to the gadget," he said.
Initial reports had portrayed the Ombatse leader as a deadly being. Because of fear, many people were afraid to enter the community until an interview conducted by Elanza Magazine in October and published in November, few days before he was killed.
The visit of Sen. Solomon Ewuga alongside journalists changed the mindset of the people who have been made to belief the Ombatse leader was a deadly terrorist and invisible.
"He relates well with everyone in the community. He had no discrimination even against strangers and that was the rationale behind accepting a gift from a lady that just visited the community for the first time."
“Let me tell you, even when they killed Baba Alakyo, did they kill Ombaste? The deity is still being worshipped. We are not a cult group but practicing our culture which has the backing of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Samson Ilesha, an Eggon man said.
Nasarawa State government through a Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Ahmed Tukur, could not comment on the issue when contacted.