NIGERIA: Uproar over military attacks on newspapers

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There was uproar in the country following the confiscation of major newspapers by the military across the country yesterday.
Several national newspapers including the Vanguard, Nation and Leadership which were being ferried to the South West, South South and South East were confiscated at several routes by soldiers who simply offloaded them from circulation vehicles under the rain at gun point and held the drivers for over 13 hours without telling them their offences.
The Defence Headquarters later blamed the development on security reports that some terrorists had planned to use newspaper vehilcles to export Improvised Explosives Divices, IED’s to export bombs from the northeast to othjer parts parts of the country.
Members of the House of Representatives who spoke on the development yesterday condemned the Federal Government for clamping down some major newspapers in the country.
The Deputy Chairman House Committee on Customs, Kingsley Chinda, PDP, Rivers described the action as wrong and out of place in a civilian government.
“Though I am yet to read the news but it is wrong to clamp on down newspaper houses for any reason. Where there is professional misconduct the professional body in charge of discipline should take steps.
“It’s wrong! Even where there is a link of such newspapers withterrorism, it should be established first and the proprietors prosecuted just like the Amigo supermarket issue.”
Also, the Chairman, House Committee on Anti-Corruption, Abiodun Faleke, APC, Lagos, described the action as absurd.
He said, ‘’It is absurd. When has it become a crime to disseminate information which are not classified. Rather than sack the Chief of Army Staff that told the whole world that they know where the Chibok girls are, Jonathan wants Nigerians to be denied access to information. I am sure it will be challenged in court”.
On her part, the Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Sports, Ayo Omidiran, APC- Osun, simply said: ‘’ This is another mistake. Soon they will deny it”.
Lawyers, NUJ condemn military attack on Vanguard, others, say it is attack on press freedom
Lagos lawyer and rights activist, Mr. Bamidele Aturu said, “This act of barbarism is unacceptable and every right thinking Nigerian must condemn the action of the security officials. This type of deve-lopment only reminds us the dark days of military imperialism. Thus, we must fight and condemn  such development so as  not to allow them throw us  back to the dark days of military incursion.
We will tell them and show them that this country belong to us all, hence  the reason while we must all resist this.
The press is one of the pillars on which democracy is rested, so, when u fight the press, it is an affront to democratic principles.
We will not allow them to destroy this democracy that we all fight for. So, the government should fish out those behind this dastard act. This type of impunity should not be  condoned in the name of fighting terrorism.
National President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Mohammed Garba, said, “We are surprised by the action of the military officers in their attack on the affected newspapers and their vehicles. The action is condemnable totally. The military should remember that we are in era of democracy and that the media is one of d pillars of democracy.
“Those involved in the action had demonstrated highest level of incivility and this will not augur well between the  media and the military, especially when they need the  media most about the security situation in the northern part of the country.
“NUJ considered  this  as another attempt to muzzle and gag the media, the  action is anti people and negate the freedom of the people.
“We therefore  condemned this  and we are totally against such act . We are already in contact with the affected media organisation to ascertain the level of damages done.
“We however appealing to the media houses and journalists, not to relent in their efforts because of this development to ensure the success and sustainabililty of our democracy.”
Barrister Monday Ubani, immediate past Chairman of Ikeja branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, said, “this action at this time is uncalled for. No matter what may have happened, the military supposed to be civil in all their action and relationship with the people, especially the media.
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