…arrest three for harboring free readers
By Davies Iheamnachor, Amarachi Uzoma, Isioma Ananaba
PORT HARCOURT – The operatives of the Rivers State Police Command have allegedly commenced clamp down on newspaper vendors in the state over an unknown reason.
Reports say at least three of the vendors have been arrested and detained in Oyibo Local Government Area of the state.
It was gathered that the security operatives in Oyibo, Elelenwo and Rumuokoro areas of Port Harcourt have allegedly been harassing vendors without any former reason.
In a formal complaint to Vanguard Media office in Port Harcourt, Imoh Micah, the Secretary of Newspapers Distributor Association of Nigerian, Port Harcourt branch, noted that the police often invade their stands and confiscate their products and sometimes allegedly arrest the vendors.
Micah noted that when the police arrested the three vendors in Oyibo that they demanded N20,000 to release each of the arrested persons, stressing that one of the vendors was released when the wife through their past paid N10,000.
He called on the Commissioner of Police to wade into the matter and investigate the action of the police, return the N10,000 paid to bail the vendor, threatening that if nothing was done within two days that vendors would not distribute newspapers in the state.
Micah said: “Recently at Rumuokoro Junction some vendors were arrested, their papers seized and their umbrellas destroyed my on daily basis by the police from Rumuokoro Divisional headquarters. Again they arrested three people from Oyibo. They have are chasing our vendors and do not want them to sell papers again.
“When we were contacted we approached the police for their bail, police asked us to pay the sum of N20,000 for each of them. Our officials reminded the police that bail according to them is free and besides the vendors did not commit any offence. The police refused them bail and insisted on charging the vendors to court. When the official’s demanded the IPO’s phone contact and the court vendors will be taken to, the DCO of the station ordered us to leave his office immediately.
“The moment our officials left the station, Mr. Ifeanyi Eboh, one of the persons arrested, was released with the sum of N10,000 through his pastor leaving now the other two vendors in their custody. In a similar incident at Elelenwo junction, vendors are not allowed to sell newspapers for about two weeks now.”
He further appealed: “We therefore call on the public to always protect, encourage and patronize our vendors while we call on Rivers State Government and all publishers of local and national papers to call come to our rescue as we demand the immediate and unconditional release of the innocent vendors whose offence was their essential duties and the immediate.
“We also want refund of the 10,000 bribe collected Mr. Ifeanyi through his pastor before his released as we are ready to protest and abandon the sales of Newspapers in Rivers State until our demands are met.”
When contacted, the Public relations Officer of the State Police Command, DSP. Nnamdi Omoni, said police made some arrests in Oyibo, adding that the vendors were harbouring some persons who were causing nuisance in the area.
Omoni stated that the police arrested all the people in the stand, adding that all of them have also been released free of charge.
He averred that there is no order from the state command mandating clamp down on vendors, urging the vendors to remain law abiding.