Tiv people in the United Kingdom (UK), under the auspices of Mzough U Tiv UK (MUTUK) have staged a peaceful protest in the UK against the barbaric killings by armed herdsmen in Benue and other parts of Nigeria.
The protest, which was led by MUTUK’s vice president, Dr Kohol Shadrach Iornem, and which started at the Nigerian High commission and ended at the No 10 Downing Street, was attended by Nigerians of other ethnic stock, who came out in solidarity with the Tivs.
According to a statement by the publicity secretary of the MUTUK, Ms Salome Sulleyol Biam, which was made available to this newspaper, leader of the protest, Dr Iornem, said the protest was to express their sadness over the problems Nigeria was currently facing in the hands of the herdsmen who have continued to massacre helpless Nigerians.
At No 10 Downing Street, the group also delivered a 9-point petition to the British Prime Minister, calling on the British government to consider intervening in the systematic ethnic cleansing as the security forces appear to have been compromised, evoke the necessary international mechanisms to establish the veracity of the substance of the petition, highlight the problems and humanitarian needs of the displaced populations, particularly women, children and the aged and support for voluntary organisations to provide assistance through self-help and requesting the Federal Government as a matter of national security, to take the necessary steps to identify and disarm the Fulani herders and their accomplices and provide protection for the victims.
Others are “Requesting the Federal Government of Nigeria to provide financial compensation to victims of the unwarranted attacks whose livelihoods have been obliterated by the Fulani herders, asking the Federal Government of Nigeria to consider implementing the “anti-open grazing bill” in all states in Nigeria, providing advice to the Federal Government of Nigeria on finding ways to deal with the political and economic dimensions of pastoralism by reducing conflict with farming communities, emphasising that pastoral nomadism is no longer practicable in this era of rapid population growth and climate change and that the Nigeria government and the international counter-terrorism coalition, investigate the possible link between the Fulani terrorists and Boko Haram insurgency and the flow of illicit arms from failed states in the African sub-region, with emphasis on the nexus with Libya and Niger.”
Speaking at the High Commission, the vice president said “We are here because our people back at home have done everything within the law to bring an end to this ethnic cleansing. Our people back at home in Benue State have protested, they have held press conferences, they held meetings with community leaders to discuss the solution to these attacks, they have passed the anti-open grazing bill.
“Our leaders back at home have even visited President Muhammadu Buhari to plead with him to take decisive actions. It is sad that immediately after their visit, the Fulani herdsmen terror group killed at least 6 persons in the same Guma and Logo Local Governments where over 70 people were initially massacred and were given a state burial. We believe the international community does not know about the current genocide in Nigeria and that is why there has been no reaction from them.
“We are here today to let the British Government know about this terror group who have killed more Nigerians than the Boko Haram. It is the responsibility of any government to protect the lives and properties of its citizens and the government have failed us in this regard. In developed countries, the President ought to have tendered his resignation for failing the people who elected him. He is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not president of a particular ethnic group. This is just the beginning. If President Muhamadu Buhari does not take immediate action to address the brutal killings of our defenceless people, Nigerians will come back here again. Enough is Enough!”
A copy of the petition addressed to the Nigerian High Commissioner was received by the Head of Chancery, Dr Niyi Ojo, who assured that the petition would be forwarded to relevant Federal Government officials.
Meanwhile, the protesters have chided the Nigerian High Commissioner of calling the police on them while they camped outside its office.
According to the statement, the protesters were at the Nigerian High commission for more than one hour but neither the High Commissioner nor any of his staff came out to address the gathering even after protesters had gathered for over one hour.
“Dr Iornem, the Vice President of MUTUK approached the security staff at the Business Section of the High Commission and was advised to go back to the main entrance. Even after going back and forth repeatedly, no member of staff came out.
“Dr Iornem urged the protesters to move down to the Business Unit of the Nigeria High Commission. At this point, the Nigeria Embassy called the police on the Nigerian protesters. When the police arrived, Dr Iornem explained to the police that protesters were here to submit a copy of the petition to the Ambassador but they had not come out to address or receive the petition. “It was at this point that the Head of Chancery, Dr Niyi Ojo, came out to speak to the protesters on behalf of the High Commissioner,” it read.
MUTUK also dismissed claims by one Mrs. Jaiyeola Mohammed that the protesters were paid to carry out the protest, describing the allegation as mere falsehood. “Do you truly believe people will be paid to protest against those barbaric killings? Any right thinking individual that sees those disturbing images and videos of the gruesome murders and refuses to speak against it, that person is also part of the problem. Instead of those vested with powers to take immediate actions to address the barbaric killings, they are busy carrying out senseless propaganda. It is very disturbing that some people actually believe Mrs Jaiyeola Mohammed. I stand here today to state that we have not received any money from anybody. I challenge anybody anywhere in the world to come out publicly and declare and provide evidence that they paid anybody.
“Because it is a lie from the pit of hell, nobody can come out! All Nigerians gathered here have made personal sacrifices to take time off their jobs on a busy Monday, some left their families to join us in this struggle inside this cold weather because of the brutal killings orchestrated by the Fulani Herdsmen, and someone without a conscience is out there alleging that it was paid protest. This is truly sad,” He stated.