Newspaper vendors and distribution agents in Imo State on Tuesday protested clampdown on them by the operatives of the Intelligence Response Team(IRT) of the Inspector General of Police.
They also resisted entreaties to distribute newspapers for sale on Tuesday in the state.
The sales representatives insisted that until the IGP team releases one of them who was still being held, they would not return to work.
The IGP team on Monday arrested five newspaper vendors and distribution agents at Rotibi Street, Owerri and confiscated their newspapers.
The IGP team took them into custody.
They were forced to make statements before they were released.
One of them was held back, causing the group to protest.
The Imo state Circulation manager of the New Telegraph Newspaper, Chuks Ugwuibe, was on Monday evening freed by the IGP team after six days of incarceration.
He was arrested in Orlu on Tuesday last week while he was taking his weekly returns from vendors.
Many newspaper readers in Owerri were stranded on Tuesday as there was no newspaper in any newsstand in the state capital and other parts of the state.
A newspaper reader, Fedinand Ekeoma expressed indignation over the development.
He said, “This is very bad and highly condemnable. Acts of repression against vendors or media practitioners are stone age strategy that should never be thought of by security or government agents.”
Another person, Ifeanyi Ajaero said, “Who does this strike affect? The truth is that the strike will serve the intended agenda; which is to keep the media off the streets.
“Rather than strike, i expect the media to be defiant and keep reporting and circulation in progress. In fact, if you initially sell a copy at N50, now is the time to sell for N30 and even look for distribution sponsorship to help give away the papers for free.”
Another person, Justin Chinedu said, “That is why the journalism profession should throw their support on social activists who speak out for social reforms rather than supporting government that shut them down and gagging them from speaking out, once the despotic government achieves that then they can muzzle the press.”
One of the vendors told our correspondent that they won’t open for business until the remaining member of the association was freed by the police.