IGP squad arrests Imo newspaper vendors, distribution agents
OPERATIVES of the Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector General of Police have arrested no few than seven newspaper vendors and distribution agents in Imo State.
The police operatives swooped on them on Monday morning at their base located at No. 5, Rotibi Street, Douglas Road, Owerri, as the circulation of the day’s newspapers was ongoing.
Other vendors and distribution agents, who ran away, told journalists that the gun-welding policemen accused them of circulating newspapers that had stories on the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra.
One of the vendors, who escaped the arrest, said, “As we were circulating our newspapers for the Monday edition, policemen putting on jackets that had IRT inscriptions swooped on us and started arresting us.
“The ones they took away were the newspapers that had IPOB stories and the ones they said were against the government.”
Some of the vendors and distribution agents the IGP team arrested were Nnamso Okoro, Nelson Enyiama, Blessing Isinwa, Onyebuchi Iwundu and Michael.
Recall that the state Circulation Manager of the New Telegraph, Chuks Ugwuibe, is still being held in an undisclosed security facility after he was arrested in Orlu on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 by security operatives while taking his weekly returns from vendors.more you arrest them, the more they write.”
Also reacting to the development, another person said, “Insurgents have taken over LGAs in Bauchi, Zamfara, Niger and Nasarawa states and they are about entering Abuja.
“The only response this clueless government has is to arrest vendors and distribution agents. Very soon, they will start arresting journalists but that will not solve the problem. Government should be proactive and not this petty approach.”
When contacted, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Abutu Yaro, said the operatives were not from his command.
Imo newspaper vendor alleges police brutality
Meanwhile, one of the arrested newspaper vendors, Onyebuchi Iwundu, narrated how the operatives of the Inspector General of Police Intelligence Response Team brutalised him.told reporters that they were dehumanised, slapped and tagged IPOB terrorists.
He said, “One of the officers even collected my N800. I am looking for money for treatment. I really need some drugs.”
NUJ condemns clampdown on Imo newspaper vendors
Also, the state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists condemned the arrest of newspaper vendors and distribution agents by the IGP Intelligence Response Team in Owerri.
A statement issued by the Caretaker Committee Chairman, Precious Nwadike, and Secretary, Austin Okoro, stated that the arrest of the newspaper vendors was an attempt to clamp down on press freedom in the state.
The statement said, “This latest onslaught on the pen profession and its ancillary arms seem to be a loud confirmation of the much talked about fast drift of the nation away from democracy to tyranny, chaos and oppression.
“We, therefore, call on the security agents to release the vendors or come up with explanation of the offence they committed beyond selling newspapers at their various newspaper stands.”
The state government through the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, said the state government knew nothing about the newspaper vendors and distributors’ arrest by the police.
Emelumba said, “The story of vendors and journalists being arrested is totally new to us as a government. Certainly, it is when you know about a problem you can fashion out a way or ways of ameliorating or solving it.”