Just In: Police Begins Mass Arrests Of Newspaper Vendors For Circulating IPOB, ESN News.
No fewer than seven newspaper vendors and distribution agents in Imo State have been arrested by police operatives attached to the Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector General of Police
According to reports, the vendors were arrested for allegedly circulating news related to Indigenous People of Biafra and the Eastern Security Network.
A report by Punch stated that the police operatives had stormed their base located at Number 5 Rotibi Street, Douglas Road, Owerri, on Monday morning as the circulation of the day’s newspapers was ongoing.
This led to the arrests of about seven persons while others ran away.
The vendors and distribution agents who ran away, told journalists that the gun-wielding police operatives accused them of circulating newspaper public
“As we were circulating our newspapers for the Monday edition, policemen putting on jackets that had IRT inscription swooped on us and started arresting us. The ones they took away were the ones that had Newspapers that had IPOB stories and the ones they said were against the government,” one of the vendors who spoke with reporters said.
According to reports, some of the vendors and distribution agents arrested by the IGP’s team are Nnamso Okoro, Nelson Enyiama, Blessing Isinwa, Onyebuchi Iwundu, and Michael.
The arrest also affected newspaper circulation in the state on Monday as the other vendors and distribution agents fled over the fear of being arrested.
The arrests led to anger as so many who usually patronise the vendors could not help but express their thoughts.
One of them said, “Do they think that arresting vendors and distribution agents and journalists will stop us from knowing the truth? They don’t know journalists, the more you arrest them, the more they write. Journalists are very strong people. Journalists are stubborn. They are very courageous. Journalists are trained to expose the evils in society. Journalists are always on the side of the people.”
“This administration is very clueless. Just look at the insecurity bedevilling our country; the only strength they have is to arrest newspaper vendors and distribution agents who are doing their lawful businesses. Why is it that this administration hates press freedom? Why is it that this administration does not like the truth?
“Insurgents have taken over LGAs in Bauchi, Zamfara, Niger, and Nasarawa states and they are about entering Abuja and 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 not this petty approach,” another said.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Abutu Yaro, said the operatives were not from his command when contacted.
This is coming just after the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, called on the United States of America, USA, not to sell arms to the Nigerian government.
Kanu called on the US President to turn down President Muhammadu Buhari’s request soliciting US military assistance to Nigeria.
According to the IPOB leader, President Buhari had made Nigeria “the most dangerous country in the world.”
Kanu argued that Nigeria would turn any arms received from the US against innocent agitators of self-determination, who the country had unilaterally and unjustifiably branded terrorists.
The letter read: “We, the Indigenous People of Biafra applaud your election as President of the United States, the most powerful office in the history of the world. We salute your adept and muscular discharge of presidential duties during your tenure in the White House.
“Mr President, as you consider Buhari’s request for military assistance to Nigeria, we respectfully urge you to also consider the following:
“Mr Buhari’s draconian measures were geared to retaliating against peaceful demonstrations favouring the restoration of Biafran independence that was cruelly extinguished by a genocidal military campaign Buhari partly led between 1967 and 1970.
“He has concocted treason charges against IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu to crush Biafran self-determination, despite the fact that self-determination is legal under Nigerian law.
“We respectfully suggest that you consider, among other things, denying weapons sales or transfers to Nigeria under the Leahy Amendment; listing Nigeria complicit in persecuting Christians and Jews under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.
“We respectfully urge Mr President to invoke particularly Section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA), as amended, which prohibits the furnishing of assistance authorised by the FAA and the Arms Export Control Act to any foreign security force unit where there is credible information that the unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.
“In conclusion, we state categorically that the national interests of the United States lie in protecting Christians and Jews in Nigeria, defeating radical Islam and preventing instability in West Africa which will altogether be enhanced by a US-led diplomatic pressure on the Nigerian government to – as a matter of urgency – agree to an UN-supervised referendum on Biafran Independence.
“We wish you and your family many wonderful years in the White House.”
Meanwhile, a former Director-General, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Prof. Bola Akinterinwa, said the letter by Kanu, was in furtherance of his agitation for the disintegration of the country and the establishment of the Republic of Biafra.
He also noted that the US refusal to relocate AFRICOM from Stuttgart, Germany, to Nigeria also coincides with Kanu’s request that the US should not sell arms to Nigeria.
Akinterinwa who stated this in an interview with Punch on Sunday, added that since Kanu is requesting that the US should not supply arms to Nigeria, it is very logical;
He said, “Why would Nnamdi Kanu accept the relocation when AFRICOM is most likely to be an instrument against what Kanu is asking for – the Republic of Biafra?”
The foreign policy expert also noted that Buhari committed a diplomatic faux pas by channeling his request for security assistance to the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, during their virtual meeting instead of President Biden.
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