To Gag The Press: Imo People Flay Government Clampdown on Newspaper Vendors, Distributors “It’s undemocratic, primitive in this century” …Vendors’ Molestation, Dehumanising …Imo NUJ condemns act

Citizens of Imo State have been reacting angrily to what they have generally described as crude and lawless attempt to gag the press in the state by the agents of the Federal Government.

According to a cross section of citizens who spoke to our roving correspondents at various  newspapers  stands in Owerri, the arrest of Newspaper Vendors and Distributors by operatives of Inspector General of Police, Intelligence Response Team,IRT  is not only provocative but also highly condemnable and reprehensible. Even as some noted that it is equally  uncivilised and undemocratic,especially in the 25th Century.

A public servant who spoke on condition of strict anonymity strongly condemned the action which he  said was an attempt to criminalize peoples legitimate business, pointing out that no where in the country’s Constitution is selling magazines and newspapers classified as a crime.

He argued that even if those arrested are alleged to have infringed the law in anyway what the police should have done is to extend invitation to them, quiz them  and if a prima facie case is established against them then they are charged to court and tried.

According to him that is what the law said and that is what should have been done instead of using crude force to arrest them as common criminals.

Also, contributing a leader of a prominent socio-cultural organization in the state who craved anonymity on the ground that he was not authorised to speak for the group, described the attack as unfortunate and an attack on  democracy, free press  and rule of law.

According to him the constitution of Nigeria guarantees freedom of expression to all Nigerians,  as well as empowers the Press to gather, write,publish and disseminate information  for the good of the society.

He explained that it was an affront on the law to in anyway or manner try to intimidate or harass them in their line of duty, as there are several legal means to seek redress in case of infringement.

He called on Gov Hope Uzodinma and President Buhari to call the police authorities to order as what they are doing is not only a threat to free Press and democracy, but also constitutes a serious dent on the image of their adminstrations.

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