Bodies of 25 Policemen found in mass grave in Nasarawa

The death toll of policemen killed by members of the Ombatse cult in Nasarawa State has climbed to 72 following the discovery of the bodies of 25 policemen that had been hitherto declared missing in a mass grave in an unnamed village in the state.

Security authorities had earlier confirmed 57 operatives, comprising 47 policemen and 10 agents of the State Security Service (SSS), killed in the attack that took place on May 7 when they were on a rescue mission to a village in Nasarawa State.

The police, which launched a manhunt for the killers, had declared the 25 policemen missing because their bodies could not be found to confirm if they were dead or alive and nobody knew their whereabouts.

The manhunt for the killers however yielded fruit yesterday as seven of the suspected Ombatse cultists were said to have been arrested in Borno State while trying to flee to Niger Republic.

While the police are still searching for the killers, the Chairman of the Northern State Governors’ Forum (NSGF) and Niger State Governor, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, yesterday called on the federal government to fish out the killers and bring them to justice.

A top police source confirmed that contrary to the hope among the police authorities that the 25 policemen might still be alive, their bodies were recently found in a mass grave in a village. But he declined to name the village and when the bodies were discovered.

“By the time we found the missing policemen, their bodies were already decomposing in a mass grave in the village. It was a gory sight,” he said.

He promised that the police would spare no efforts and resources in ensuring that those behind the killings are found and prosecuted.

It was also learnt yesterday that seven of the suspected killers of the security agents have been arrested in Borno State while trying to flee to Niger Republic.

The arrest has however not eased tension in the state as many people feared that the case will not be closed until the arrest of the chief priest of the Ombatse shrine whose concoction people believed helped the cultists to become invulnerable to injuries from weapons.

It was learnt that the fear stems from the fact that the power and influence of the chief priest is known to the people, especially politicians who had also benefited from his mystical powers in 2011 during the general election.

The cult, according to a source, is said to be bitter that those who climbed to positions of power through its influence turned round to send enforcement operatives to destroy it.

The seven suspected Eggon militants believed to have been apprehended at the weekend by the Joint Task Force (JTF) operatives in Borno State may have been handed over to the Nasarawa Police Command.

Initial investigations have also shown that some top politicians in the state had patronised the shrine during the campaign for the last general election and helped in the funding and provision of logistics, especially sophisticated weapons used by the cultists.

Inspector General of Police (IG), Mohammed Abubakar, while visiting the troubled area at the weekend, had called on elders and eminent citizens of Nasarawa State to collaborate with the police to fish out the killers.