By Ali Abare Abubakar
The over 2000 victims of the Ombatse onslaught in Igah town of Nasarawa Eggon local government area in Nasarawa state, are yet to return to their homes four months after Eggon youths attacked the agrarian community leaving 58 persons dead including children.
Narrating their ordeal to Peoples Daily yesterday, Idris Bala Mohammed, speaking on behalf of the displaced persons, said they no longer find life easy as they are unable to return home following repeated threats by the Ombatse warning them not to return to Igah, their ancestral home for centuries.
He disclosed that most of his kinsmen were scattered across the state, displaced from living normal lives even as he fears that their children may not be able to continue with their education now that they live in displaced persons camps in Lafia and other major towns.
Tracing the history of conflicts between the Igah community and the surrounding Eggon communities, Mohammed narrated that Igah had in the recent past come under series of attacks by the Ombatse with the intention of uprooting the community that has been in existence for the past 300 years.
According to him, Igah was first attacked by the Eggons sometime in 1991, even before the creation of Nasarawa state, resulting in the burning of houses and loss of lives, with community members forced to desert the area.
After the then Plateau state government waded into the matter, leading to the return of the natives back to Igah, but the Eggons reportedly attacked the community again in 2013, setting the entire town ablaze with the inhabitants forced to flee to safety.
“Early this year, precisely on April 25, 2014, our community was again surrounded by the Ombatse who set the entire community ablaze, killing over 58 inhabitants including children, forcing us once again to flee our homes and to take refuge elsewhere” Mohammed recounted.
While lamenting that the latest attacks by the Ombatse were carried out in spite of peace efforts by the administration of Governor Umaru Tanko Al-makura, with scores of security operatives stationed in the area, Mohammed observed that during the most recent attack, the over 70 security operatives in Igah fled when the Ombatse came shooting into the air.
He stated that following the apparent inability of the security operatives to secure them from incessant attacks, the Igah community, who are mostly farmers and who have been displaced from their farming activities, were left with no option than to appeal to the international community, particularly human rights organizations, to wade into the matter with a view to bringing lasting peace in the area.