Nigeria Military Continues Crackdown on Media, Blocks Newspapers Distribution in Abuja, Lagos

The Nigerian military on Saturday continued its onslaught on newspapers by sealing off the popular major distribution depot in the Area 1 District of Abuja, from where all newspapers are distributed to agents and vendors across the Nigerian capital as well as blocking the circulation of newspapers in Lagos and other cities.

A contigent of soldiers stormed the distribution depot, confiscated and destroyed most of Nigeria’s leading national dailies meant for distribution.

The armed soldiers who stormed the center at about 7.00am arrived with ten Hilux patrol vans painted in Nigerian Army colors asked  all vendors and distributors to lie face down and descended on them. One of the vendors who tried to take a picture with his phone was arrested, brutally assaulted and had his phone seized and destroyed by the rampaging soldiers.  The soldiers according to sources from the scene soldiers were specifically looking for some newspapers namely; Leadership, The Nation, Punch, Vanguard and DailyTrust. The soldiers claimed the newspapers targeted published a report on Monday that portrayed the Nigerian military in a bad light.

In Lagos, soldiers confiscated thousands of copies of the Saturday edition of Leadership newspaper at the domestic wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos.

The Lagos editor of the newspaper, Kazeem Akintunde, confirmed the seizure.

“Yes, our paper was seized this morning at the airport around 6 a.m.,” Mr. Akintunde said.

The newspaper’s cover story for the day concerns the death of the Emir of Kano and not any report relating to military operations.

The military attack on Nigerian newspapers commenced on Friday with soldiers confiscating thousands of Nigerian newspapers including Leadership, The Nation, and Punch newspapers.

The attack has attracted public umbrage as press freedom advocates have described them as Draconian and a return to military era repression.

The military, however, defended its actions in a statement by its spokesperson, Chris Olukolade, who said it was a routine security check.

The Nigerian government also, Friday, defended the military’s attack on Newspapers.

“The military will not deliberately and without cause, infringe on the freedom of the press,” Mike Omeri, the Director General of the National Orientation Agency said.

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