Day 2: Soldiers stop distribution of newspapers in Abuja
…Military: We are acting on information at our disposal
For the second time in 48 hours, armed soldiers invaded the vendors distribution centre in Abuja and stopped circulation of all newspapers in the Federal Capital Territory.
The soldiers also frisked some of the vendors and circulation vans at the centre.
THE NATION Newspapers appeared worse hit by the siege.
But the military insisted that it was acting on security reports on the likelihood of using some of the circulation vans to ferry explosives nationwide.
The military said the tight security measure was necessary in the overriding public interest.
According to sources, 20 soldiers in seven Military Hilux vans stormed the Distribution Centre in Area at about 5.30am.
One of the sources said: “Immediately they came, they took strategic positions and the team leader addressed us on why none of the newspapers cannot be circulated.
“He said they were acting on sensitive security reports that some subversive elements had perfected plans to hijack the newspapers’ distribution chain to ferry explosives to wreak havoc.
“They were civil but they gave us stern instructions not to attempt to distribute our copies.
Another source gave a different version of what happened.
He added: “It was raining when the armed soldiers came to the centre. They then asked the first set of vendors, who arrived in the place, to sit on the floor.
“But later, they screened us one by one, searched our vehicles, collected our phones and asked us to converge on a corner.
“At about 8.30am, they asked us to vacate the distribution centre. We were not allowed to pick our copies.”
At about 9.40am, the leader of the team summoned all the agents and vendors to ” go and do proper identification on or before Monday to ascertain those who are in the business.
“They said only accredited agents and vendors will henceforth be allowed in and out of the centre.”
As at press time, the vendors’ association had put a process of accreditation in place.
But none of the seized newspapers had been released by the soldiers.
A military source said: “Soldiers acted on security reports of the hijack of the newspapers distribution chain to perpetrate insurgency.
“There is no way we can take things for granted in any manner whatsoever. We are trying to sort things out, we will get back to you.”
But THE NATION Newspapers appeared worse hit by the siege as all its copies sent to Kaduna, Kano, Jos, Ibadan, Akure, and most parts of the South-West had been confiscated.
Also, the whereabouts of THE NATION’s distribution vehicles and drivers were unknown as at press time.