By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Armed police men on Friday in Makurdi manhandled journalists covering the peaceful protest by the Tiv Youths Organization, TYO, against the alleged verbal assault on the paramount ruler of the Tiv tribe, Tor Tiv Prof. James Ayatse by the Minister of Special Duties and Inter-Governmental Affairs, Senator George Akume.
Senator Akume was alleged to have called the paramount ruler ‘Tor Pati’, meaning king of party politics at a ceremony few days ago which sparked angry reactions in parts of the state.
The TYO shortly after the alleged comment issued a statement urging the Minister to publicly apologize to the monarch or withdraw the said offensive statement failing they would embark on street protests.
The youths had on Friday made good their threat bearing placards and banners with inscriptions such as “Akume must apologize to the Tor Tiv”, “Tor Tiv must be respected by all”, “Tiv youths say no to insults on our monarch,” among others.
The aggrieved youths led by the President General of TYO, Chief Timothy Hembaor had submitted their protest letter to the leadership of Mzough U Tiv, MUT, an umbrella body of all Tiv speaking people, when stern looking Police led by a Superintendent of Police besieged the JS Tarka Foundation venue the of the meeting.
They confiscated the cameras of the Channels TV and AIT reporters and asked other reporters to surrender their recorders.
Amid the confusion one of the police men grabbed the Channels camera man, Mr. Mike Ochai slapping him severally after which they took away all the banners used in the protest.
However, the quick intervention of the state police Commissioner, Mr. Garba Mukaddas saved what would have resulted into a major crisis in the town when he called the affected journalists to his office and ordered that their cameras be released and also directed that the brutalized camera man who was in severe pains be taken for treatment at the expense of the command.
The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Terver Akase and the Governor’s Security Adviser Col. Paul Hemba (rtd) also waded in to ensure that the matter was resolved soon enough.