By Gele Agbai, Owerri
Operatives of Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Inspector General of Police have freed four of the five newspaper distribution agents and vendors arrested on Monday, May 10, in Imo State but one is still being detained.
The police rounded them up at the distribution point at 5, Rotibi Street, Owerri for selling newspapers that published stories on the separatist group, Indigenous People of Biafra.
The release of the four vendors followed intervention of government officials and the Chris Akaraonye-led executive of the Imo State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
Efforts are being intensified to get fifth vendor released.
Confirming their release, one of the freed vendors, Onyebuchi Iwundu said they passed through hell in the hands of the police.
Iwundu disclosed that they were tortured, slapped and hit with the butt of the gun by the operatives who tagged them as IPOB terrorists for selling newspapers that report activities of the separatist group.
Iwundu said, “All our newspapers were clampdown on. We were beaten, slapped and the butt of the gun used on us.
‘They called us IPOB terrorists because we sell newspapers that carry IPOB stories. We were later allowed to go after they had finished beating us, took our newspapers and forced us to make statements. One of the officers even collected my N800. I am looking for money for treatment. I really need some pain relief drug”.
It will be recalled that in April Channels Television was suspended and fined the sum of N5 million by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for allowing a leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to make sucessionist and inciting declarations on air without caution or reprimand from the station, in its live programme on Sunday, April 25, 2021.
The NBC however later said it did not suspend the station but simply warned them.