Update, Sept. 14, 2013, PremiumTimes
No fewer than 30,000 persons, mostly women and children within and around the affected areas, have fled to other parts of the state and the neighbouring Benue state for safety.
The communal clash between the Ombatse and Alago tribes of Nasarawa state that began on Friday continued on Saturday, with the crisis extending to Obi local government main town and Assakio area of Lafia east.
The crisis, which started on Friday as a result of the resistance by Ombatse militia to the arrest of their member caught with weapons through a tipoff by Alago youths, has consumed the entire town of Assakio in Lafia east and part of Obi local government area as at the early hours of Saturday.
In Obi, the resident of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) North Central Zonal Chairman, Yusuf Ayitogo, was razed just like that of a former Commissioner for Agriculture in the state, Salihu Iyimoga.
The properties were reportedly touched by members of the Ombatse militia group. Two cars belonging to the PDP chieftain were also vandalized.
The youth spent the morning hours of Saturday attacking Obi village after which they proceeded to Assakio without any hinderance from security agencies as they spent close to three hours in both towns spraying petrol before starting fires.
Scores of dead bodies littered the town of Obi as residents remained afraid to evacuate bodies of victims for fear of been attacked.
Witnesses told PREMIUM TIMES the fully armed boys moved in a group chanting anti-police slogans, and then attacking anyone in sight.
They then bolted in motorcycles.
Another witness said he saw some boys arrested by the Army and taken away in an Hilux van.
“I saw a white HIlux pick with army drop some boys about twelve of them with one of the army shouting get down and follow the bush,” the source said.
The PDP zonal chairman told PREMIUM TIMES he had relocated his family to Keana local government area, few kilometers from the scene of the incident.
“I have relocated to Keana with my family before thinking of what next to do,” he said.
Already, no fewer than 30,000 persons, mostly women and children within and around the affected areas, have fled to other parts of the state and neighbouring Benue state for safety.
Spokesperson for the Nasarawa state command of the police, Cornelius Ocholi, wouldn’t comment for this story. When contacted on telephone, he simply said, “I am engaged with the commissioner of police now and would call you later”.
Meanwhile, the state government, in a state-wide broadcast yesterday condemned the incident, warning that government would not “stand by and watch these heartless criminals in our state unleash a reign of terror on innocent citizens of the state”
The state deputy governor, Damishi Luka, who made the broadcast on behalf of Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, said government had taken adequate measures to bring the situation under control.
But despite the assurance, there was apprehension around the state that the militia groups were mobilizing to attack more settlements overnight.
Sept. 13, 2013
Palpable tension has enveloped Lafia, the Nasarawa state capital, and environs, following a clash between Eggon youths suspected to be Ombatse militia and Alago youths in Obi local government area of the state.
Odobu, a village few kilometers to Obi town, mainly inhabited by the Alago tribe, has been razed down while the inhabitants have all fled to unknown destination.
Although the immediate cause of the crisis is yet to be ascertained, community sources claimed the clash started as a result of resistance by the Eggon youth to the arrest of their colleagues by security operatives after a tipoff by Alago youths who suspected the movement of the Eggons from Lafia east to Obi town about 40 kilometers away.
Witnesses say despite effort to check the crisis by the police, the youths had a field day as they spent almost three hours burning houses and properties.
One of the victims, who asked not to be named for security reasons, told PREMIUM TIMES he escaped death by the whiskers.
“I managed to escape narrowly,” he said. “As I am speaking to you Odobu community has been completely destroyed and as at the time I was scampering to safety, the angry looking youths were heading towards Obi main town having razed down Odobu.”.
When contacted, the state Police Commissioner, Umar Shehu, confirmed the incident saying he had deployed his men to the area to halt the violenc.
He however declined to provide casualty figures saying “for now I cannot confirm any casualty figure until my men return”.
A PREMIUM TIMES reporter, who visited some nearby communities, said that there was palpable tension as some of the residents, mostly women and children were seen fleeing their homes in droves.
At the time of filling this report, the state’s deputy governor, Damishi Barau Luka, is presiding over a hurriedly convened security meeting in his office in Lafia.
Image from earlier event where JTF pursued Ombatse cultists