The Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria [NPAN] on Saturday held an emergency meeting over the ongoing onslaught against the media by the Nigerian military.
The military attack on Nigerian newspapers commenced on Friday with soldiers confiscating thousands of Nigerian newspapers including Leadership, Daily Trust, The Nation, and Punch newspapers.
It however extended the onslaught to all major newspapers on Saturday 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. It also prevented some newspapers from being distributed in Abuja.
But at the end of its emergency meeting Saturday, NPAN, in a statement by its President, Nduka Obaigbena, asked "the military authorities to lift the siege immediately and call the soldiers to order".
"The NPAN unequivocally condemns this attack ofnFREE SPEECH by soldiers, in Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Jos, Maiduguri, Ibadan amongst other cities, claiming to be acting on 'orders'", the said. "This assault on FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION through the stoppage of distribution of newspapers is inconsistent with the values of any democratic society and the Constitution of The Federal Republic of Nigeria."
Read full statement below.
June 7, 2014
Statement By The Newspaper Proprietors Association Of Nigeria On The Siege On The Media
Following the harassment of newspaper vendors/distributors and the seizure of large volumes of newspapers by soldiers who initially targeted the following newspapers: LEADERSHIP, DAILY TRUST, The NATION and PUNCH, but later extended the siege to all major newspapers in the country for the second day today, the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) held an emergency meeting in Abuja on June 7, 2014 with representatives of vendors and distributors and resolved as follows:
1. The NPAN unequivocally condemns this attack of FREE SPEECH by soldiers, in Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Jos, Maiduguri, Ibadan amongst other cities, claiming to be acting on "orders". This assault on FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION through the stoppage of distribution of newspapers is inconsistent with the values of any democratic society and the Constitution of The Federal Republic of Nigeria. We therefore call upon the military authorities to lift the siege immediately and call the soldiers to order.
2. The NPAN notes the statement issued on Thursday, June 6, by the Director Defence Information, Major General Chris Olukolade, that newspaper distribution channels may have been infiltrated by some persons to transport "materials with grave security implications." As citizens and businesses, we take the security of our nation very seriously, and especially condemn the continuing daily destruction of human life by a mindless, cruel and criminal insurgency. We have, at our own instance, engaged various security agencies in the past to find ways of dealing with the security challenges we all face. We shall continue to do so. It is, however, deeply troubling that a siege has been laid to the media for two straight days on a suspicion over which no one consulted the NPAN. We stand ready, able and willing to work with all relevant security agencies to ensure the integrity of the newspapers' distribution process.
3. The NPAN wishes to reassure its readers, partners and the public at large, that it will continue to work to promote peace and unity in The Federal Republic of Nigeria, while defending its constitutional role to hold governments at all levels accountable.
4. Finally, we do not believe that given the already tense situation in the country the government or any agency acting in its name, will engage in acts that can only stifle free speech and encourage rumors to fester. We, therefore, welcome the assurances to NPAN leadership by senior security officials to end this unnecessary siege.
Signed, Nduka OBAIGBENA, President, NPAN