The report of the Justice Joseph Gbadeyan Commission of Inquiry, set up by the Nasarawa state government to look into the Alakyo killings of May 7, 2013, has been published. The nine-member judicial commission of inquiry was inaugurated on June 26, 2013 by Governor Umaru Tanko al-Makura. The Alakyo mayhem led to the death of 74 security personnel, comprising 64 policemen and 10 personnel of the Department of State Security Service (SSS). Following the killings, there was a huge public outcry and wild stories attributing the routing of the security men to the spiritual powers of the Ombatse cult.
However, the report of the commission says that it was not any spiritual force that caused the death of the security officials as evidence revealed that the Ombatse militias used firearms, cudgels, cutlasses and other lethal weapons in killing and injuring the affected personnel who were on lawful duty at Alakyo. Ethnic rivalry to achieve political dominance; youth restiveness due to non-profitable engagement such as the high unemployment rate; manipulation of the youth by the political elites to achieve personal political objectives, and mutual ethnic suspicion and antagonism were some of the other factors identified by the commission as causes of the mayhem.
The document stated that the Ombatse group had been deeply involved in all communal clashes in the state. It also noted the Fulani herdsmen had also been involved in the crises that have engulfed the state. The federal government was also not spared by the report when it reported that “the federal government’s un-empathetic concern over the Alakyo killings even when its agents were the victims has not helped in the containment of violence in the state.”
The commission also condemned the role played by the “Eggon traditional council and its elders in the tacit support of the activities of the outlawed Ombatse group. The report also indicted Senator Solomon Ewuga for being one of the financiers of the Ombatse and giving false evidence on oath before the commission.
We hail the Gbadeyan Commission for its patriotism. The speed with which it carried out the responsibility entrusted to it is evidence that it took its job very seriously. We also praise the Nasarawa state government for not only acting promptly in setting up the commission but also making its findings public in record time. There are several cases in Nigeria where similar commissions set up by either federal or state governments never saw the light of day.
With the findings of the commission now published, we can now take steps to prevent a recurrence of such ugly situations. First and foremost, all those reported to have been responsible for the mayhem should be punished according to the law.