23 January 2018

Nigeria: Tears, Anger As Nigerians in London Protest Against Herdsmen's Killings

Photo: The Guardian
Fulani herdsmen: Nigerians in UK protest incessant killings

Nigerians in London, United Kingdom, yesterday protested against the slow response of President Muhammadu Buhari's administration to the killings by Fulani herdsmen in Benue State and other parts of Nigeria.

The about 60 protesters marched from the front of the Nigerian High Commission to the office of the British Prime Minister Theresa May at No 10, Downing Street, singing "all we are saying, enough is enough, Buhari must go, the killings must stop. "

As various cheerleaders took turns to address the crowd, tears flowed freely from most of the women's cheeks, while some of them fought hard to control theirs. All the speakers blamed Buhari and the National Assembly for not taking a decisive action to end the torture, rape and killings being perpetrated in Benue State by the herdsmen.

The protest which was organised by Mutual Union of Tivs in the United Kingdom (MUTUK) and supported by members of the Nigerian community in the UK, lasted for more than three hours.

It took off in front of the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square, with just about 12 members of MUTUK around 10:30 a.m., with the singing of both the Nigerian national anthem and that of Tiv.

But within minutes, the number of participants nearly tripled as other members of the Nigerian community who had been waiting in front of the Nigerian High Commission - about five minutes' walk from Trafalgar Square - came over to the national gallery.

After a short prayer and a minute silence in memory of those killed in Benue, the demonstrators proceeded to the front of the commission where many others had also been waiting.

With nationalistic adrenaline flowing in many veins and solidarity songs, the crowd defied the freezing weather and blocked the main entrance of the High Commission.

The various speakers took to the microphone to condemn President Buhari, Kaduna State Governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the Inspector General of Police and the National Assembly. The bulk of the speeches and blame were on Buhari, who was accused of having "Fulanisation" and "Islamisation" agendas.

Those who addressed the crowd included MUTUK's Shadrach Iornem and Chidi Cali of the Concerned Nigerians in the United Kingdom. Iornem said President Buhari should either stop the killings or resign.

In response to chants of "who's killing our children?" "Who's killing our women?" "Who's slaughtering our sons?" and "Who's killing Nigerians?" the crowd shouted Buhari's name to each, until men of the Metropolitan Police asked them to move to the opposite side of the commission, where the protest continued.

Chants of "Buhari, blood on your hands" and "Buhari must go" continued till 12:11 p.m., when the crowd then started the journey to No 10, Downing Street, about 15 minutes' walk.

As the protest became a mobile one, the songs and chants continued all the way to the prime minister's office where officers of MUTUK delivered a letter seeking the intervention of the British government and the international community to representatives of Mrs. May.

As the crowd turned heads and many onlookers and tourists made enquiries, the demonstrators also chanted:"Buhari belongs to herdsmen. We say no to genocide. All we are saying, no more killings, stop Benue killings."

While the leaders went inside No 10, others continued the protest till they returned to inform their fellow Nigerians that there would be a response from the British government at a later date.

MUTUK's Secretary General, Gillian Sasvari, told The Guardian that "the killings is not just a Tiv problem, it is a Nigerian problem."

Cali said he was not surprised, having campaigned against Buhari's candidacy during the 2015 elections. "I don't hate the man or his policies, but Buhari belongs to the past."

Bamidele Soyoye of DUREN (Detach Unite, to Realign Nigeria) said: " We want Buhari to say where he stands. The whole world must know this is happening. The demonstration is not about Benue, they want emirs everywhere, they want to colonise us. Government has no business with cattle rearing. They want to Fulanise us. We say no to Fulanisation of Nigeria."

President of itshekuri Congress in UK, Dr. Emmanuel Towuaghantse said "the killings have to stop."

Meanwhile, the apex Igbo socio -cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has criticized the ten-man committee set up by the Federal Government on the Fulani herdsmen-farmers' clash as wrong.

President General of the organization, Chief Nnia Nwodon in a statement yesterday, said that committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo would not bring solution to the festering ugly development.

Nwodo, who wondered how the Federal Government could set up a panel to reconcile "murderers with the murdered", said it was an indication that the government was not serious with finding lasting solution to the problem.

Nwodo said pronouncements by the leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) were evidence that they were culpable in the carnage across the country. He wondered why they were not arrested and prosecuted instead of setting up a committee.

According to the Igbo leaders, the setting up of the committee is a usurpation of the responsibility of the law courts where such cases of murder should rightly be decided, instead of turning them into mere communal clashes which further encourages the Fulani herdsmen.

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