By Etete Godson
Families and victims of police brutality Monday, went on a rally to commemorate the fourth remembrance annievasry of the 2018 protest at Niger Delta University (NDU) in Amassoma in Bayelsa state that led to the death and injury of several people.
Four years ago, the security agents in a bid to quel a protest – that had gone on for days – against retrenchment at the university killed six persons and injured several at Amassoma community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area (LGA).
The ICIR reported a detailed account of the incident titled : Living with ghosts (I) : Life after encounter with police brutality in Bayelsa state
Umuoh Festus who lost his twenty-year-old son, Jonathan Festus to the Amassoma protest said, “I remember this day as a very painful day as a father who lost an innocent child. …As a young man, he was planning to further his education so he took up Okada (motor bike) driving, then he was just shot by a gun”.
Princess Jacob whose father was also killed during the protest said “I remember this day as the day I lost my father. On that day, I was at home when I started having fear in me. Then some people came and said my father has been gun down. I thought he was still going to survive. … I thought it was a joke”.
A former paramount ruler of Amassoma, Nengi Sogo, said several victims of the incident are yet to recover.
The chief explaining what led to the protest said, “this thing happened, concerning NDU. The new VC that came in started dropping [retrenching] workers.They said they want to drop workers. In the process, community boys protested. Majorly, the Amassoma group of workers were dropped, although other community groups too were dropped. The Amassoma boys protested that this thing should not happen”.
He added that “my first time of hearing gun shots killing people of this community was that day”.
Oyeinkenumuworime Jacob, who lost her husband and her job during the NDU crisis said that she the incident has turned her and her children to beggers, adding that she currently find it difficult to pay their school fees.
Blessing Azagba whose daughter lost her husband – Ebimobowei Gagede – said she is grateful to be alive as she was almost hit by a bullet while running for safety in May 2018.
Oyinbowogha Famous Ogbe who survived the incident with gunshot injuries, said the community would forever remember those that were killed by the police during the 2018 protest as heroes that died fighting for the betterment of Amassoma.
Friday Sunny Ebiakpobowie, who also lost his father during the NDU protest is wary of street protest. He cautioned Nigrians to be careful.
The four year remembrance ceremony and rally saw a banner placed at an Anglican Church in the community, with names and photographs those who died.