Nigerians resident in the United Kingdom, UK, have staged a protest at the Trafalgar Square in London, moving on the prime minister’s residence to voice their discontent with the insecurity and perennial violent clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, particularly in Benue State.
The protest, which was convened by Mutual Union of Tivs in the UK, MUTUK, with support from the Nigerian community in that country, also proceeded to the Nigerian High Commission before heading to the prime minister’s Number 10 Downing street office.
In a statement by the Publicity Secretary of MUTUK, Salome Sulleyol Biam, the protest led by Dr. Kohol Shadrach Iornem marched to the Business Section of the Nigerian High Commission and was advised by the security at hand to go back to the main entrance.
According to a statement by the protesting Nigerians, “Even after going back repeatedly, no member of staff came out. Dr. Iornem then urged the protesters to move down to the Business Unit of the Nigeria High Commission.
“At that point, the Nigeria Embassy called the police on the Nigerian protesters. When the police arrived, Dr Iornem explained to the police that protesters were there to submit a copy of a petition to the Ambassador but he failed to come out to address the protesters or receive the petition.
“He stated that courtesy demanded that a member of staff from the High Commission should have addressed the gathering and received the petition.”
Iornem, in his speech addressed to President Muhamadu Buhari through the ambassador, said the protest was a reaction to what Nigerians were passing through in the hands of the herdsmen who have continued to massacre children, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers.
He continued, “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 home have even visited President Muhammadu Buhari to plead with him to take decisive actions. It is sad that immediately after their visit, the herdsmen terror group killed at least 6 persons in the same Guma and Logo Local Governments where over 70 people were initially massacred and given state burial.
“We believe the international community do 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 has failed us in this regard.
“In developed countries, the President ought to have tendered his resignation for failing the people who elected him because 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,” Iornem said.
Iornem on behalf of MUTUK submitted a copy of the petition to the High Commissioner, represented by Head of Chancery, Dr. Niyi Ojo.
In his response, Ojo assured that he would pass across the petition to the Federal Government.
The peaceful protest then continued to Number 10 Downing Street where the group were to deliver their petition to the British Prime Minister.
Iornem was accompanied by executives including the President, Kuram Gwakyaa, Salome Publicity Secretary, Sulleyol Biam, Social Secretary, Veronica Jato, Chief Whip, Bemdoo Aleva, and the Ex-President, Martin Akiga.
The request which Iornem made on behalf of MUTUK to the Prime Minister was for the British Government to consider Intervening in the systematic ethnic cleansing because our security forces have been compromised, an appeal to the British Government on behalf of our defenceless fellow Nigerians is a desperate plea.
Evoking the necessary international mechanisms to establish the veracity of the substance of the petition, the group highlighted the problems and humanitarian needs of the displaced populations, particularly women, children and the aged.
They sought the support of voluntary organisations to provide assistance to victims of the attacks.
MUTUK requested the Federal Government to, as a matter of national security, take the necessary steps to identify and disarm the herders and their accomplices and provide protection for the victims.
The Nigerian government was also tasked to provide financial compensation to victims of the unwarranted attacks whose livelihoods have been obliterated by the herders.
They also called on the federal government of Nigeria to consider implementing the “anti-open grazing bill” in all states of the federation, asserting that pastoral nomadism is no longer practicable in this era of rapid population growth and climate change.
The protesting Nigerians also wants security agencies to investigate the possible link between the herdsmen and Boko Haram insurgents and the flow of illicit arms from failed states in the African sub-region, with emphasis on the nexus with Libya and Niger.
Reacting to claims of the protest being sponsored, Iornem told journalists that, “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. 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 herdsmen, and someone without a conscience is out there alleging that it was a paid protest. This is truly sad.”