New editions of New Republic, Vesym, Freedom Journal and Authority newspapers were confiscated by soldiers yesterday in Aba, Abia State, because the papers bore Biafra reports.
Sources said the soldiers, believed to have come from 144 Battalion, which is under Ohafia 14 Brigade, stormed St. Michael’s Road at about 7am, in two Hilux vans and seized the newspapers, reports the Nation.
The soldiers who initially attempted to arrest the vendors, distributors and publishers but failed, eventually packed the unsold and current editions of the papers and left.
A source at 144 Battalion confirmed the seizure, saying it was due to the hate and inciting reports allegedly being published by the papers. The source added that they were on the trail of the publishers and suppliers with the aim of nipping circulation of such inciting materials. He warned vendors to desist from selling such publications.
The newspaper publishers and vendors have condemned the soldiers actions, saying they were overstepping their bounds, vowing that attempts by the military to gag the press will fail.
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“We are publishing reports about Biafra like other national dailies do. Let them close down all the media houses because they are carrying Biafra stories, after all, we are not the only ones publishing stories on Biafra.”
A statement by Comrades Nelson Nwafor and Emmanuel Acha said soldiers have no right to confiscate newspapers, no matter what is published, except on the orders of a competent court.
They called on the Chief of Army Staff to call the soldiers to order before they take laws into their hands, stressing that Nigeria is not a banana republic and therefore, the principles of democracy, as practiced elsewhere, should be respected.
Meanwhile, the newspaper vendors in Aba, are still counting their losses following the confiscation yesterday, saying they have lost money as many readers were disappointed.