President Goodluck Jonathan will declare a state of emergency in Nasarawa State, if the recurring violent killings and clashes between the Ombatse militia group of Eggon and the Alago ethnic group continue. Nasarawa senators say this move would prevent a spill-over of the crisis to nearby Abuja Federal Capital Territory.
A ranking officer of the Nigerian Army told DailyPost on Friday morning that the government was “seriously” weighing the option of a state of emergency. However, the source said there is no information when the emergency rule would be announced.
Earlier this week, the president directed the military to take over flash points across Nasarawa to curb the violence.
When asked if the military would move once the crisis escalates, the source said: “Yes, it is possible. But that will only happen if the present troops deployed could not stabilise the situation.”
For some time now, traditional and religious leaders, affected communities, some state and federal lawmakers, have been demanding an emergency rule which they believe would put the crisis under control.
On Thursday, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Senate Services, Senator Suleiman Adokwe, representing Nasarawa South Senatorial District, confirmed that moves were on to ensure that a state of emergency was imposed on the state, adding that soldiers were drafted from Benue and Plateau States to Lafia, the state capital.
He said the business activities in Nasarwa have been bought to a halt due to the renewed fighting.
Adokwe said: “I was in Nasarawa when the brouhaha broke out and up till today, nobody can give you a precise reason as to the outbreak of the hostilities but before you knew it, there was a free-for-all killing. It was almost like a full-blown war. For three days, people were being killed, massacred, houses were being burnt down with bulldozers, trees were being hacked down, villages were being wiped out, to show that nobody ever lived there.
“Soldiers came but they were not sufficient to contain the outbreak of hostilities and we had to move to see that more soldiers were drafted from Makurdi, Shendam and Keffi.
“So, I applaud the decision of President Goodluck Jonathan to send soldiers down there. In fact, I had prepared a motion, to seek for a state of emergency but at the moment, the deployment of the soldiers is quite sufficient to mitigate the problem.
Abuja is under threat too
He mourned that his people had recorded heavy casualties in the renewed violence, stating that the FG needed to quickly restore order in the state and avert a spill-over of the crisis to nearby Abuja Federal Capital Territory.
“Everybody that cares to listen, including the Federal Government , should know that Nasarawa State is as good as being part and parcel of the Federal Capital Territory and the problem of Nasarawa State is the problem of Nigeria.
“If the security agencies and government would not rise up to secure Nasarawa State, it follows, as a matter of course that the FCT is not safe. Marauders can invade the FCT from Nasarawa State within five minutes. It is imperative, strategic that security agencies of the nation secure Nasarawa State," Adokwe concluded.
It will be recalled, that a communal clash between the Ombatse and Alago tribes of Nasarawa state began on September 13, 2013. The crisis started with the resistance by Ombatse militia to the arrest of their member caught with weapons through a tipoff by Alago youths, and has consumed the entire town of Assakio in Lafia east and part of Obi local government area. Dozens are reported dead.