ABA—A team of soldiers believed to be attached to the 144 Battalion, Asa, Ukwa West local council, Abia State, yesterday invaded a newspaper office along St. Michael’s Road, Aba and seized copies from vendors.
Vanguard gathered that the confiscated papers were both unsold and new editions of New Republic, Vesym, Freedom Journal and some copies of Authority newspapers (Owned by Business Mogul Ifeanyi Uba). Eyewitnesses told Vanguard that the soldiers that arrived in two Hilux vans in the area which serves as the hub of newspaper business in Aba, at about 7am and confiscated newspapers bearing pro-Biafra stories. According to the eyewitnesses, the soldiers packed the unsold and current editions of the said papers into their vans and left the place and vowed to arrest the publishers of the various newspapers. “At about some minutes past seven, soldiers in two Hilux vans arrived this place (St. Michael’s) with one of the vendors asking to know who publishes or supplies the newspapers. The newspapers they confiscated were New Republic, Vesym, Freedom Journal and some copies of Authority newspapers that carried Biafra stories. They packed all of them into their van and promised to come back,” the eye witnesses said.
A publisher, who would not want to be mentioned in an interview with journalists
however, condemned the action of the military, and denied that pro Biafra newspapers incite hatred among the people. According to him, the military are overstepping their bounds and vowed that “No amount of efforts by the military to gag the press will work. We are publishing reports about Biafra like other national dailies do. Let the military go and close down all the media houses because they are carrying Biafra stories, after all, we are not the only people publishing stories on Biafra.” Efforts to contact the Public Relations Officer, 14Brigade, Major Sydney Mbaneme, proved abortive but a highly placed source at 144 Battalion who confirmed the seizure of the said newspaper publication said that they carried out such exercise because of the hate and inciting reports allegedly being published by the papers. The source added that the Army was determined to stop the circulation of these newspapers through the arrest of the publishers and vendors, accusing them of inciting hatred among Nigerians.