A Tiv group in the Diaspora, Mzough U Tiv UK (MUTUK), on Monday, had a rally in London to protest killings carried out by Fulani herdsmen in Benue and other states. The protest, which featured other Nigerians in the Diaspora, took place at the Nigerian High Commission and later, the official residence of the UK Prime Minister where a petition was delivered.
At the High Commission, the protesters were disappointed that neither the Nigerian High Commissioner nor any of the staff came out to address them. Dr. Kohol Shadrach Iornem, MUTUK Vice President and protest convener, approached the security staff at the Business Section of the High Commission and was advised to go back to the main entrance.
Even after acting as instructed, he was ignored. The MUTUK Vice President then urged the protesters to move to the Business Section of the High Commission. This provoked the High Commission staff into inviting the Police, who were told by Dr Iornem that protesters just wanted to submit a petition to the High Commissioner.
The MUTUK Vice President also argued that a staff of the High Commission should have addressed the protesters and received the petition. Consequently, the Head of Chancery, Dr Niyi Ojo, came to speak to the protesters on behalf of the High Commissioner.
In his speech to President Muhammadu Buhari, through the High Commissioner, Dr. Iornem said it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to protect citizens. He lamented the killing of over 76 people in Guma and Logo Local Government Areas.
"We are here today to let the British Government know about this terror group which has 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 has 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 the president of a particular ethnic group,” he said.
Dr Iornem, on behalf of MUTUK, submitted a copy of the petition to the High Commissioner through the Head of Chancery, who promised to pass it on the Federal Government.
The protest continued to 10 Downing Street, official residence of the British Prime Minister, where its leaders delivered a copy of the petition
MUTUK, in the petition, requested British government to intervene in what it considers ethnic cleansing. It said this has become necessary because Nigerian security agencies have been compromised. It also requested the British government to invoke required international mechanisms to establish the veracity of claims made in the petition, highlight the humanitarian needs of the displaced persons, particularly women, children and the aged, as well as provide support for voluntary organisations to offer assistance.
In addition, MUTUK requested the British government to get the Nigerian government to urgently take steps to identify and disarm the Fulani herdsmen and their accomplices, protect the victims, provide financial compensation to victims for loss of livelihood and consider the implementation of the Anti-open Grazing Bill in all states of the country.
The group equally called on the British government to advise its Nigerian counterpart on finding ways of reducing conflict with farming communities and that pastoral nomadism is no longer practicable in an age of rapid population growth and climate change.
MUTUK requested the British authorities to impress on the Nigerian government and the international counter-terrorism coalition the need to investigate the probable link between Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram insurgency as well as the flow of illicit arms from failed African states, especially Libya and Niger.
Dr. Iornem denied that the group was paid to carry out the protest, as alleged by one 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. All Nigerians gathered here have made personal sacrifices to take time off their jobs on a busy Monday. because of the brutal killings orchestrated by the Fulani herdsmen,” he told journalists.