Police Operatives of the Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector General of Police, have arrested five newspaper distribution agents and vendors in Owerri, Imo State.
The operatives swooped on them on Monday at their base located at Number 5 Rotibi Street, Owerri, as the circulation of the day’s newspapers was on going.
Other vendors and distribution agents who ran away, told newsmen that the gun wielding security operatives, accused them of circulating newspapers that had stories on the Indigenous People of Biafra.
One of the vendors who escaped the arrest said ‘’as we were circulating our newspapers, 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.”
Some of the vendors and distribution agents arrested were, Udoka Okoro, Nelson Anyama, Blessing Isinwa, Onyebuchi Iwundu and Michael.
The state circulation manager of the New Telegraph Newspaper, Chuks Ugwuibe who was arrested in Orlu on Tuesday last week, is still allegedly being held at an undisclosed security facility.
The arrest of the newspaper vendors and distribution agents has elicited reactions as residents of the state asked the government to stop clamping down on the press. The arrest also affected newspaper circulation in the state on Monday as the other vendors and distribution agents fled over fear of being arrested.
The state Commissioner for Information, Declan Emelumba has however promised to intervene in the matter. Emelumba said, he would bring the matter to the attention of the relevant authorities in the state. When contacted, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Abutu Yaro, said that the operatives were not from his command, he however stated that it will be brought to a resolution.