Nigeria: Policemen held hostage by Militia

BY: Isaac Yeboah

About four policemen are still being held in captivity by the Ombatse militia which ambushed a security team last Monday in Nasarawa State.

The police say 23 of their men and those from the State Security Service (SSS) were killed in the ambush at Alakyo Village.

The Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, on an on-the-spot tour of the state yesterday said the captured policemen must be released.

He said the force police will engage peaceful method to set the hostages free.

Abubakar visited Lafia in company of the Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Capt. Caleb Olubolade; the Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG), Zone IV, Mr. Mike Zukumor; the state commissioner of police, Abayomi Akeremale and other officers of the police high command.

He said: “The killing of these police officers and men and other security men was “callous”. I wish to call on elders and eminent citizens of the state to collaborate with the police in order to fish out the perpetrators.

“We are making every peaceful effort to ensure that some of our men still being held hostage are released unhurt.

“There is an ongoing dialogue both in the state, and at other quarters. We are optimistic that the personnel still being held would soon be released.”

The minister, said: “Such ‘barbaric’ act on officers whose duty is to safeguard lives of others, is unacceptable in a decent society. Somebody somewhere is causing havoc for whatever reason and the society must not allow that to continue. I want to assure you that justice will be given to the slain officers.”

Two hours after the IGP left Lafia in his chopper, four ambulances drove into Dalhatu Araf Specialists’ Hospital (DASH), with some more bodies.

Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura had said on Friday that “Every arrangement for their (security operatives’) safety was made. The most unfortunate thing that happened was the betrayal within them. This is what betrayal has caused for not only you (widows), but the rest of the nation.”

Al-Makura also said the State Security Council (SCC) was aware that four of the security personnel were still held hostage by the militia.

He added: “The compounding issue is that the place is still insecure. It is not to say we can’t go there. We are trying to get anyone still alive there. We heard up to four men are still being held, but the police are working hard to free them.

“We are making efforts to recover the remaining bodies of the slain officers, adding that the area of the incident is still volatile.”

The governor said the militia had been proscribed since January 2013 and were carrying out their activities unlawfully.

He said most Eggon leaders and elders were not happy at the activities of the group “but could not talk to them for fear of the sophisticated weapons at their disposal.”

The governor has released N1 million to each of the families of security agents who were killed in the attack. He also announced a donation of N3 million to the family of the slain Assistant Commissioner of Police and pledged the support of the state government in settling the medical bills of those who were injured in the attack.

The governor announced this in Lafia shortly after meeting with some widows of the affected security officers.

Source: The Nation