YENAGOA – Proprietors of community newspapers in Bayelsa State on Wednesday condemned the restriction of the circulation of their newspapers in the state.
The publishers said that security operatives restricted their circulation by the persistent harassment of vendors.
The group under the auspices of the Concerned Independent Publishers in Bayelsa said in a statement in Yenagoa the clampdown was condemnable.
The spokesman of the Bayelsa Police Command, Mr Alex Akhigbe, had said that the police was concerned by the security implication of the large crowd that often gathered at the newspaper stands to read newspapers.
The publishers, a group of seven newspapers affected by the restriction, said the current editions of their various newspapers were rejected by the vendors.
The affected newspapers included Golden Pen, Niger Delta Herald, The Light, National Investigator and Spynet.
“We condemn the use of security agencies to harass and intimidate our sole newspaper distributor, Chief Shedrak Alaka Oko, stopping him from selling and circulating our newspapers in Yenagoa and its environs.
“We find this action engineered by the state authorities preposterous and unprecedented in the history of Bayelsa, not even in the era of military dictatorship in the state between 1996 and 1999.
“Previous democratic administrations, from Chief Diepreye Alamieyesiegha, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, to Chief Timipre Sylva never took to gagging the press in spite of criticisms of their administrations,“ the statement read in part.
The publishers noted that the restriction of distribution amounted to depriving them of their legitimate livelihood which negated the principles of free enterprise.
They said that anyone who felt that his or her rights had been infringed by any news item should seek redress through the established organs.
The publishers urged the state governor to caution his aides to prevent them from seeking legal redress to enforce the freedom of the press as guaranteed by the constitution. (NAN