Senator Samuel Nnaemeka Anyanwu has flayed the ongoing clampdown on the press in Imo State, saying the act is inimical to democracy.
Anyanwu, who represented Imo East at the National Assembly between 2015 and 2019, condemned the arrest and brutalization of newspaper vendors and sales executives in Owerri by security operatives.
He stated that such act was aimed at gagging the press.
Senator Anyanwu, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) further advised against the use of force on innocent citizens in the course of performing their lawful duties, saying that the unprofessional conducts of security agents was capable of generating tension in the state.
According to him, press freedom entails that every citizen was at liberty to express his opinion through oral or written channels, pointing out that it therefore impedes constitutional provisions when government begins to intimidate, harass and manhandle those exercising their rights.
The former Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions maintained that democracy becomes useless when press freedom is hampered and threatened by agents of government who are expected to protect it (democracy).
“The press has played a pivotal role in nation-building, and any attempt by whosoever to intimidate, harass and manhandle journalists, vendors or to gag the press will be highly resisted.
“The press is the watchdog of the society, and there is need to accord them every necessary assistance to thrive. When they feel threatened, it therefore affects their style of reportage. We must allow them to function freely” .
He called on security agencies still holding newspaper vendors and journalists in their custody to release them unconditionally, saying that such move would go a long way in reducing tension and instill sanity in the state.
While urging newspaper vendors and circulation representatives in the state to trade with caution, he warned them against the sale of materials that were capable of triggering ethnic sentiments and social unrest.