Newspaper vendors and distribution agents on Tuesday protested the continuous clampdown on them by the operatives of the Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector General of Police in Imo State.
They also embarked on a strike action by refusing to distribute newspapers for sale across the state.
SaharaReporters had reported on Monday that police operatives attached to the IGP's Intelligence Response Team arrested no fewer than seven newspaper vendors and distribution agents in the state for circulating news related to Indigenous People of Biafra and the Eastern Security Network.
The police operatives had swooped on them on Monday morning at their base located at Number 5 Rotibi Street, Douglas Road, Owerri, as the circulation of the day’s newspapers was ongoing.
Other vendors and distribution agents who ran away, had told journalists that the gun-wielding police operatives accused them of circulating newspaper publications that had stories on IPOB and ESN.
It was observed that many newspaper readers were stranded in Owerri on Tuesday as there was no newspaper in any newsstand anywhere in Owerri and across the state.
Speaking during the protest at Rotibi Street, chairman of the agents, Chidiebere Tasie, insisted that until one of their members who was still being held by the police was released, they would not return to work.
Expressing disenchantment, Tasie said “This is very bad and highly condemnable. Acts of repression against vendors or media practitioners are stone age strategy that should never be thought of by security or government agents.
“Who does this strike affect? The truth is that the strike will serve the intended agenda; which is to keep the media off the streets."
The Imo State Circulation manager of the New Telegraph Newspaper, Chuks Ugwu, was on Monday evening freed by the IGP team after six days of incarceration.
He was arrested in Orlu last Tuesday while taking his weekly returns from vendors.
Meanwhile, the Imo State commissioner of police, Abutu Yaro, has said they were arrested by operatives of the Intelligence Response Team for profiling and analysis over certain publications being circulated in the state.