Vanguard reports that the incident happened in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital while the group protested against the allocation of 1,200 hectares to the Fulani herdsmen.
The residents are said not to be happy with the development or the explanation of the governor of the state, Seriake Dickson concerning why he took the decision.
The incident allegedly happened while AnnKio Briggs, a right campaigner, was being addressed at Tombia junction in Yenagoa by the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in the area just before the protest was scheduled to commence.
The report said the national presidents of the Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative (IPDI) members of the National Security Watch Organization of Nigeria (NSWON) as well as leaders including Austin Ozobo and Dickson Bekederemo, Comrade Harrison Kpikpi, Ojugo Christy, Preye Dressman were assaulted by the thugs believed to have the backing of the government.
This incident was said to have caused a stampede as people ran in different directions while the police shot in the air to scare the hoodlums.
Reacting to the incident, Briggs said: “It was quite a violent scene, I was addressing the Divisional Police Officer and some of his men the purpose of our protest, which is strictly on the allocation of 1,200 hectares of land to herdsmen when the thugs, who were lurking around pounced on us.
“The police know them; they ripped my identity card from my body, forcefully took my phone and manhandled me, they attacked and wounded many of us, the security agents were there watching and did nothing. They only chose to fire teargas and shot indiscriminately into the air.”
The report also quoted the leader of the Ijaw People Development Initiative (IPDI), Austion Ozobo, as saying in a statement: “It was sad and disgusting when thugs, police, army and Civil Defence Corps manhandled protesters, who assembled at Tombia Junction to express their disapproval over the allocation of 1,200 hectares of land to marauding herdsmen on February 14 in Bayelsa.
“The thugs assaulted Annkio Briggs, Barr Dickson Bekederemo, Comrade Harison Kpikpi, Ojugo Christy, Preye Dressman and others. This was followed by continued shooting of over 100 gun shots and canisters of teargas by police officers to disrupt and dislodge the protesters.
“The military stationed two armoured tanks at the Tonbia junction, the police and Civil Defence Corps equally drafted over 20 patrol vans to intimidate and beat up protesters in Bayelsa, as if they are fighting war.
“We are disappointed at Governor Seriake Dickson’s cruel action against fellow Ijaw people. This cannot happen in the north and southwest, Hausa man or Yoruba cannot do this to their people.
“The right to protest is a civil right of Nigeria citizens. Dickson action is in human and repressive. Seeing what herdsmen are up to, no reasonable persons would welcome them to their domain.
“It is a pity that Dickson is fighting to protect animal rights, instead of human rights. It is a pity that animal life has more value to Dickson than the rights and safety of Bayelsans.”