Niger Delta Youths Condemn Protest Against Grazing Bill

Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson
Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson

The Niger Delta Youth Coalition for Peace and Progress, NDYCPP, has condemned the protest against the decision of the Bayelsa State government to allocate lands for the creation of grazing areas and ranches for herdsmen in the state.

In a statement signed by the acting Coordinator of the group, Jude Tiedor and acting Secretary Henry Nabena, the group described the protest which was led by Ankio Briggs, a Niger Delta Activist, as ill-advised.

The protest which was supposed to hold on Tuesday was abandoned after some youths stormed the venue and dispersed the protesters, injuring many of them in the process.

Though the NDYCPP said it did not support the molestation of peaceful protesters, the group stated that the protest did not follow laid down procedures.

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“This foiled protest was totally unnecessary and unacceptable by the majority of the Ijaws,” the statement read.

“While we consider the situation unfortunate, especially as it affects a woman who has been involved in the Niger Delta Struggle for many years, we are at the same time forced to ask this very pertinent question: was the protest necessary?

“In our thinking Ankio Briggs and her group did not follow due process in staging the planned protest in Yenagoa.”

The Niger Delta youth group added that “investigations revealed that the police and other security agencies in the state knew nothing about the planned protest which could have been hijacked by hoodlums to cause trouble.”

The statement also pointed out that some Niger Delta youths leaders had prevailed on  Briggs to shelve the planned protest but she rebuffed the entreaties.

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According to the NDYCPP, the explanation of the Bayelsa government that the allocation of land for grazing reserves was a security measure to avert clashes between farmers and herdsmen was sound and acceptable and devoid of politics.

However, Briggs said she was molested by the youths and her phone was also stolen, adding that she was against any “Ijaw land being ceded to Fulani people under any circumstance.”

She said: “At the rally, thugs came into the Tombia round about field, they invaded the place push 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.

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“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.”