For the past one week, there has been palpable tension in Gboko, the capital city of Benue State, which serves as the traditional Headquarters of Tiv ethnic group in Nigeria. This threat stems from the biting effect of a weeklong “Sit-At-Home” Protest embarked upon by Igbo Biafran traders in that part of Nigeria. It was organized to express their displeasure over the outrageous and unlawful levies indiscriminately imposed on them, residing and carrying out their commercial activities in Gboko. Interviews conducted by the Family Writers Press, Middle Belt Bureau revealed some volatile security situations arising therein.
Information gathered from the Igbo community in Gboko has it that the “Sit-At-Home” protest was premised on the threat of the Tiv youths which is taking a swipe on all Igbo owned shops in Gboko Main Market with the imposition of a daily collection fee of fifty Naira (N50.00) for sanitation purposes. Feelers from some interviewed Igbo traders visited revealed that, if not resisted, the paltry sum of N50.00 daily sweeping levy could give rise to future obnoxious taxations that could take a toll on the traders. They maintained that no amount of threat/intimidation/blackmail will lure them into accepting such an arrangement from the Tiv youths. Numerous methods of extracting fees from the Igbo traders in Gboko are already in vogue but the introduction of this particular one is totally rejected, the traders defiantly stated.
When asked why the Gboko Main Market was being deserted, a Yoruba man who owns a drinks shop located behind Gboko Local Government Area Secretariat and the palace of Tor Tiv, pointedly collaborated the narratives of the Biafra Igbo traders and condemned the holiganistic antecedents of the Tiv youths. Responding to further questions regarding this development, the Yorubaman stated that the Yoruba community resident in Gboko is not aware of such obnoxious fees levied against Yoruba shop owners in the market. He stated that Yorubas in the market are few and so may very unlikely fall victims of this evolving developments.
The Hausa community within the Gboko Main Market was equally visited in the investigation drive of the Family Writers Press Correspondents. Responding in Hausa language to the question why the Gboko Main Market was being deserted, the Hausa men encountered credited such to have resulted from a misunderstanding between the Igbo traders and the Tiv youths on the insistence by the later that the Igbo traders must comply with the payment of daily N50.00 sweeping levy as fixed and ordered. When asked if the Hausa market which is located within the Gboko Main Market is part of this sweeping arrangement, the response was that the Tiv youths can never ever try such around them. This information was professionally obtained concealing the real identity of the interviewers as news hunters.
Some Tiv youths in Gboko were also cornered by the Family Writers Press Correspondents, to ascertain their own position on the matter. They threatened fire and brimstone against the Igbo Biafran traders should they maintain their insistence of not accepting the shops compulsory daily sweeping levy arrangement of N50 each. One of the youths who identified himself as Terkimbi Ugema angrily stated that most of these Igbo traders presently claiming to be wealthy and famous came to Gboko with nothing. Another Tiv youth threatened that should the traders resolve to lockdown their shops for one full year, the N50 daily sweeping levy must have to be compulsorily paid on their resumption. Every effort made to reach the paramount ruler of the Tiv nation, His Royal Highness (HRH) Prof. James Ayatse (Tor Tiv v), proved abortive as he was said to be hosting some crucial meetings bordering on Fulani killer herdsmen issues. But a certain chieftain identified in the palace who chose anonymity, stated that the compulsory sweeping levy was a government program. He pointed out that it was contracted to a politician with the sum of N10m (ten million Naira) under with the mandate of generating an expected sum of N70m (seventy million Naira) annually.
The question then is: Why are the Tiv people biting the fingers that are feeding them? Why is the revenue generation program targeted exclusively against the Igbo traders? Why have they not channeled their energy and aggression to the Fulani killer herdsmen (terrorists) that have consistently ravaged their ancestral lands and killing Tiv people unhindered? We are closely monitoring to ascertain the end point of this debacle.