The Reproduction Rights Society of Nigeria (REPRONIG) has condemned the clampdown on the newspaper industry by the Nigerian Army, and demanded N100million compensation for each of the newspaper houses attacked.
The organisation’s board chairman, Professor Olu Obafemi and the executive director, Jare Ajayi, in a statement yesterday, said that by the clampdown, Nigerians’ rights to express themselves and be heard were being violently assaulted “besides the paralysis being brought upon the newspaper houses whose commodities are being unlawfully confiscated and destroyed.”
The body, which protects and promotes intellectual rights of authors, said publishers of the affected newspapers belong to the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) which is an affiliate-member of REPRONIG.
The group said the attack on members of the NPAN was an attack not only on REPRONIG but also “on all Nigerians and all those who ought to have an unfettered access to information anywhere in the world”.
Nigerians woke up on Friday and Saturday, June 6th and 7th to an unprecedented clampdown on vans conveying newspapers across the country. The clampdown was by heavily armed soldiers who said that they were acting on an “order from above”. They confiscated newspapers meant to be distributed in different parts of the country and burnt or tore many of them. They also detained drivers and distribution officers of some of the vans.
The director, defence information, Chris Olukolade, in a statement had said that the army embarked on newspaper seizures because intelligence reports indicated that materials with grave security implications were being moved across the country through newsprint related consignments.