Friday, June 6, 2014

Gagging Nigeria Press?

The recent confiscation of Nigerian newspapers by the military may be viewed as an act of gagging the press in the eye of press freedom. Do you think that is the best approach to the security of Nigeria?

Kindly read the account of the newspapers:

1. Nigerian Military moves against Leadership Newspaper; soldiers seize consignment heading for North, South 

In what appears a throwback to Nigeria’s dark days of military dictatorship, some soldiers who reportedly claimed they were acting on orders from above have confiscated today’s edition of Leadership Newspaper heading to the Northwest, Southeast and Southsouth regions of the country, an official of the paper has said.
Azubike Ishiekwene, managing director of the Leadership Group, said soldiers mounting a roadblock close to the tollgate along the Abuja-Kaduna expressway blocked the newspaper’s van heading to Kaduna and confiscated the entire consignment of the paper.
The driver of the vehicle as well as another staff were also detained, with their telephones seized, Mr. Ishiekwene said.
Another consignment of the paper being flown to states in the Southeast were also confiscated by authorities at the Abuja airport, the newspaper said.
Mr. Ishiekwene said his company had not been told the reason for the action.
Reports also say another detachment of soldiers have condoned off the Edo State office of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in Benin, demanding all copies of Leadership and Nation Newspapers from vendors.
Patrick Ochoga, the Edo state correspondent of the paper in Benin, told PREMIUM TIMES the consignment of the paper heading to Kogi and Edo states was also intercepted and seized by soldiers in Kontagora.
“They are trying to ensure that the papers do not circulate at all in Benin,” Mr. Ochoga said.
“Nobody has told us why our paper was seized and we are seriously concerned by this development,” Mr. Ishiekwene said in response to a PREMIUM TIMES enquiry.
The spokesperson of the Nigerian Army, Olajide Olaleye, a Brigadier General, could not be reached for comments Friday morning.
The Leadership Newspaper angered Nigeria’s military authorities on Tuesday when it reported that nearly a dozen army generals and soldiers on lower ranks had been brought to trial for sabotaging the Nigerian government’s onslaught against Boko Haram.
Coming amid widespread concerns about sabotage in the Nigerian military in its fight against Boko Haram, the Leadership report drew extensive referencing in the international media Tuesday.
But the military said it bore no truth.
“This falsehood had previously been refuted when it first reared its head but those concocting it appear hell bent on misleading Nigerians and the international community to give credence to the negative impression they are so keen to propagate about the Nigerian military,” the spokesperson of the Defence Headquarters, Chris Olukolade, a Major General, said.
It is not clear if the paper is now being punished over that matter.

2. Soldiers prevent distribution of Vanguard Newspaper in Ibadan, S/South, S/East

Soldiers have prevented the distribution of today’s edition of Vanguard newspaper in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo state, just as the circulation vehicles going to the South South and South East with the papers were stopped at Ore and Warri in Ondo and Delta states respectively.
In Ibadan, our correspondent gathered that Vanguard was not the only target as two other newspaper vans were also impounded, their drivers detained with their phones seized. 
The soldiers have however cordoned off  all roads leading to Oke Padre, a major distribution point for newspapers and magazines in the South West. 
Chairman, Newspaper Distribution Agents of Nigeria, NDAN Oyo State, Mr. Abimbola Tunde, said more than 100 soldiers stormed the distribution point and seized all the papers.
“We don’t know any reason for this”, he said.

3. Soldiers lay siege to The Nation offices

…Seize vehicles, newspapers
Soldiers on Friday morning impounded several vehicles conveying The Nation Newspapers to various stations in the South-south and other parts of the country.
A van conveying the day’s newspapers to Warri and Benin City was seized by soldiers of the 3 Battalion of the Nigerian Army at Okwuokoko, Delta State.
Similarly, a detachment of troops stormed The Nation’s circulation depot located on Effurun, Sapele in search of the newspapers and the company’s staff.
A source at the Effurun Barracks told our reporter that the troops were acting on “orders from above.”
It was further learnt that troops also invaded the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Press Centre in Benin in a similar mission to seize Friday’s edition of the paper.
Our correspondent in Benin, Mr. Ben Ogbemudia, said, “as I text you they have laid ambush in Benin waiting for the company’s newspapers.”