Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, worldwide, has condemned Tuesday’s attack on Annkio Briggs and other Niger Delta activists by hired thugs at Tombia Junction, Bayelsa State, while they were protesting the allocation of land by the state government to Fulani herdsmen.
Eric Omare, the spokesperson of the IYC, on Wednesday, February 15, 2017, called on security agencies to investigate those behind the attack and bring them to justice.
“It is totally unacceptable and undemocratic for Annkio Briggs and other Ijaw activists to be attacked on Ijawland for expressing dissent over a government policy,” the statement obtained by The Trent said.
“This action does not reflect the collective position of the Ijaw nation. We feel strongly that the protest led by Ann-Kio Briggs and other Ijaw activists should be an opportunity to open a debate on the best approach to the management of Fulani herdsmen on Ijaw land and the Niger Delta region instead of attacking them.
“The right to assemble and peacefully demonstrate to express contrary views to government policy is an integral part of democratic governance as guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Bayelsa State should not be an exception.
“It is even more regrettable that the display of thuggery was done in the presence of security agents who ought to protect citizens’ right to assemble,” the statement ended.
The Assault on Annkio Briggs
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’.