Senator Samuel Nnaemeka Anyanwu has described as dangerous to democracy, the arrest of newspaper vendors and circulation representatives in Owerri by suspected security operatives, adding that such act was an underground attempt to gag the press.
Anyanwu’s reaction followed the news of arrest and brutalization of newspaper vendors by security operatives and agents of the government in Owerri, the capital of Imo State.
Senator Anyanwu, a Chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Imo State further advised against the use of force on innocent citizens in the cause of performing lawful duties, adding that unprofessional conducts of some security agents was capable of generating tension in the state.
According to him, press freedom entails that every citizen was at liberty to express his opinion through oral or written channels, pointing out that it therefore impedes constitutional provisions when government begins to intimidate, harass and manhandles those exercising their rights.
Anyanwu, an erstwhile Senate Committee Chairman on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions maintained that democracy becomes useless when the press freedom was hampered and threatened by agents of government expected to protect it.
“The press has played a pivotal role in nation building, and any attempt by whosoever to intimidate, harass, manhandle Journalists, Vendors or to gag the press will be highly resisted. The press is the watchdog of the society, and there is need to accord them every necessary assistance to thrive. When they feel threatened, it therefore affects their style of reportage. We must allow them to function freely” He stated.
He called on the government and her agencies still holding newspaper vendors and Journalists in their custody to release them unconditionally, saying that such move would go a long way in reducing the already hyped tension and instill sanity in the state.
While urging newspaper vendors and circulation representatives in the state to trade with caution, warned them against the sale of materials that were capable of triggering ethnic sentiments and social unrest.