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Monday, 9 June 2014

Clampdown on Media Organizations Enters Day Three


According to the Nation, the Federal Government’s onslaught against it's media organisation and other media outfits  continued for the third straight day yesterday.

In several places, vendors rejected the newspapers for fear of being arrested or beaten up by soldiers. In some parts of Lagos, soldiers beat up vendors who displayed copies of The Nation and confiscated them.
In Warri, Delta State, plain-clothe security agents, suspected to be men of the Department of State Security (DSS) or Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), replaced soldiers at the newspaper depot at Airport Junction on the Warri/Sapele Road, Warri.
Six heavily armed  soldiers were sighted at the Jakpa Junction entry point into the city. They were on the lookout for vehicles heading towards Airport junction conveying newspapers.
The Nation’s Sales Manager Mr Olaribigbe Bello said the vehicle conveying The Nation to Jos, the Plateau State capital, was delayed for about five hours and was later released after being searched.
In Oyo, a vendor, Jimoh Afeez, was beaten up for displaying The Nation. Another vendor is said to have been in military custody since Friday.
After the newspapers had been distributed, the soldiers attacked and beat up the vendors, and sought to know how the The Nation got to the market.
In Makurdi, after the papers had been distributed, the some uniformed men went to the distribution centre to look for the sales representative.
The same intimidatory tactic was adopted in Ibadan, where plain-clothes men stood at The Nation office, waiting to arrest the sales representative.
In Benin, Edo State, vendors were ordered not to display The Nation. In some parts of Benin, newspapers were seized and were later released after about four hours.
In Lagos, soldiers beat up vendors for displaying the newspaper, and seized all the copies, especially in Abule Egba area. 
The Nation’s General Manager Southsouth Mr Olatunde Olasogba, said soldiers were at the distribution centres in Bayelsa and Benin.
Vendors, he said, were generally afraid to collect and display the newspaper for fear of being beaten up or arrested.
Soldiers confiscated all copies of The Nation and Sporting Life in a distribution van heading for Bayelsa, Delta and Edo states. The vehicle was arrested at Ahoada enroute Bayela.
Another vehicle going to Enugu via Owerri and Onitsha was arrested at Elele, detained for several hours and released at about 3pm.
“We couldn’t circulate in Enugu, Owerri, Awka and Asaba. Our sales are almost zero. The soldiers have forced our sales to crash. We could not reach most Southeast states which fundamentally affected our sales,” Olasogba said.
In what appeared like a movie scene, armed soldiers attached to the Oyo State security outfit, Operation Burst, beat up and arrested a vendor at Durbar in Oyo town for selling The Nation to customers.
All other newspapers found on the vendor’s counter whose name was given as Afees were confiscated, as he was whisked away by the battle-ready soldiers.
Afees was said to be attending to one of his customers who came to collect the day’s supply of the newspapers, including The Nation when the incident occurred.
Unknown to the unsuspecting   vendor, a plain clothe military man who was on surveillance and has been standing beside him disguised as a customer and demanded for a copy of The Nation.
As Afees was bringing out a copy secretly tucked inside the hand bag, the military man identified himself   and ordered for remaining copies of the newspaper.
A few minutes later, armed soldiers from the state security oufit arrived, beat up the vendor, confiscated all the newspapers before whisking him away to an unknown destination.
The development elicited uproar from onlookers and readers around who expressed strong indignation over the siege on the media.
Since last Saturday, armed soldiers had been laying ambush in Oyo, Ogbomoso, Iseyin and Kishi towns
As early as 5:30am, the battle-ready soldiers in an army colour vehicle were on the major streets mounted road blocks and searched vehicles suspected to be carrying copies of The Nation for distribution.
The soldiers usually demanded copies of The Nation from the vendors, after which they search other newspapers on them to actually know if they  did not have The Nation.
A newspaper vendor at Ikpoba Hill in Benin said some soldiers collected copies of The Nation from him; they wanted to know how he got them.
Some vendors interviewed said they were not harassed but lamented poor sales because of late arrival of the newspaper.
The vendors who pleaded anonymity said ardent readers of The Nation were disappointed at the absence of the paper from the streets.
A vendor at a public motor park in Warri metropolis told our reporter that a military team accosted him and demanded to know why he was selling The Nation.
“I didn’t mind them and they left shortly,” he added.
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