Ten policemen who survived Tuesday’s onslaught from the Ombatse militia group in Nasarawa State have attributed their survival to luck.
Narrating their escape, one of the police officers who spoke on behalf of nine other survivors (names withheld) said their survival was only by the grace of God as they were outnumbered and overpowered by the militiamen. He also disclosed that the militiamen had prior knowledge of their coming and laid siege on the narrow road leading to the village, Alakyo, where they were supposed to effect the arrest of their leader and recover arms said to be in his possession.
He said, “The road is narrow and they allowed us into their midst before opening fire on us at close range.” Efforts to return fire and scare them into hiding ware futile as bullets were not penetrating them, he said.
The militiamen, dressed in black shirts and caps, kept approaching amidst heavy gunfire, which forced their Hilux van, the last van on the convoy, to turn back. “Due to the nature of the road and ensuing gun duel, our men could not turn back and 10 of us in our van were able to manoeuvre our way out but not without suffering bullet wounds,” he said.
The recuperating officer added that the driver of their van was shot on the leg but, luckily enough, one of them with him in front could drive and immediately took over. Many of the officers took to the bush but hugely outnumbered by the militiamen who knew the terrain better, they were pursued and killed.
“As soon as they killed an officer, his rifle was taken off him.”
Meanwhile, the pervading atmosphere in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital, is that of fear, anxiety and hope as the families of the slain policemen converged on the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital (DASH) to identify their loved ones most of whom had been burnt beyond recognition.
The Nasarawa State commissioner of police, Mr Abayomi Akeremale, has confirmed that the bodies of 30 policemen killed on Tuesday by a militia group at Alakyo village in Lafia had been recovered.