A peaceful protest embarked upon by a coalition of Ijaw interest groups in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 ended on a sad note as thugs, allegedly sponsored by the Seriake Dickson-led government attacked Annkio Briggs, a renowned Niger Delta rights activist and those protesting the decision of the Bayelsa State government to donate land to Fulani herdsmen.
The rally christened “Love for Bayelsa, Love for Ijaw land, Love for Niger Delta, Love for Nigeria” had barely began when the thugs heavily armed invaded the take off point of the rally at the Tombia junction.
Thugs reportedly beat up and inflicted bodily injuries on the protesters mainly women and youths, including one of the conveners, Annkio Briggs.
The presence of the policemen at the scene did not deter the thugs as they carried out the violence while the police looked on to the chagrin of the protesters.
While others sustained minor injuries, one Mrs. Christy Odiko, a member of the Ijaw Women Connect (IWC), was so severe that she was hospitalised after the attack in an undisclosed hospital in the state capital.
Speaking to newsmen shortly after the attack, Ms Briggs who lost her phone in the cause of the melee described the action of the Police as ‘unacceptable’.
“All what we are saying is no to Ijaw land being ceded to Fulani people under any circumstance.
“At the rally, thugs came into the Tombia round about field, they invaded the place pushed me down, one particular boy collected my Samsung phone, my Identity Card was ripped off my neck and some people secured me and moved me away from the location.
“I told the Police DPO that this rally was not against the governor of Bayelsa, but against the decision he has made.
“It is unbelievable, I am an Ijaw person, I have fought for the Ijaw nation for as long as I can remember.
“I have been called a bigot because of my stand on Ijaw issues and if today I can come to Bayelsa and Bayelsa children, some of them are old enough to be my children, whether it is Gen Africa, and others.
“So if today they have appointments and positions and think that people like me no longer have the right to speak on Ijaw matters that is a sad day for them and not for Ijaw nation.”
When contacted for comments, the spokesperson of the Bayelsa Police Command, DSP Asinim Butswat asked for more time and promised to call back but never did.