A group of traditional worshippers called Ombatse Militia are said to be responsible for the killing last Wednesday of 23 policemen in Alakyo Village, Nasarawa State.
The victims, part of a larger deployment to maintain order following recurring conflict between the shrine worshippers, Muslims and Christians in the community were waylaid and killed, according to Second Republic governor of Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa.
Activities of the cult group have been reportedly proscribed since January.
Musa in an interview with Vanguard on Friday said the traditionalists had often intimidated members of other faiths and the policemen were killed in an attempt to arrest the tense situation.
He said, “I don’t know if you have studied the report of the incident in Nasarawa State. Can you imagine such messy destruction organised by a group of idol worshippers? Can you imagine that they beat the police on this? The whole thing was over a shrine.
“The police heard a report about their activities particularly that they were forcing Muslims and Christians to swear by their deity.”
Musa, the national chairman of Congress of Nigeria Political Parties, said the police consequently mounted surveillance on the area to investigate the activities of members of the cult group.
The elder statesman noted that the mission became impossible when the traditionalists learnt they were being monitored.
“Within a short time, the worshippers were able to surround the policemen and killed 23 (of them) immediately,” Musa added.
He said the crime might have a political undertone, as such organised crimes could have been possible with the aid of the “rich and powerful” in the area.
Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Al-Makura, who was in Abuja on Wednesday to brief the presidency on the activities of the cult group had said the militia group are holding arms and carrying out cult activities in the state, going from one place to another, including churches and asking people from that particular ethnic group to take potions meant to empower them.
“As security operatives were approaching the shrine, unknown to them that ambush had been laid, these people attacked them, resulting in the death of more than 20 policemen.”