The police in Nigeria’s South-south state of Akwa Ibom have raided a private printing press in Uyo, the state capital, carting away production materials and several copies of some local newspapers being produced, sources said. During the Sunday night raid, some journalists were reportedly arrested but later released in the morning.
The director of the printing press and two of his staffers were however not that lucky: the police was still holding them in an unknown location as at Monday afternoon.
The raided printing press, Aswill, is in Akpan Etuk Street in the heart of Uyo, and the affected papers are Global Concord, Pivot News and Weekly Insight, all weekly independent newspapers with print runs not more than 1,000. They however have more readerships than the state-owned The Pioneer, regarded as a publicity rag sheet of the administration.
Clifford Thomas, editor-in-chief of Pivot News, confirmed that the police arrested him and three other reporters but that they were later released. He said the police came in four Toyota Hilux trucks, and said they had orders from the state’s deputy commissioner of police to stop some newspapers from getting to the newsstand following the suspicion that they were about publishing subversive materials critical of the Akwa Ibom State government.
“They forcefully took away all our production plates, we are now thinking of how to start afresh for this week’s publication,” Mr. Thomas said. “The police action is highly repressive and it is condemnable.”
David Augustine, the editor-in-chief of Weekly Insight, said though the police did not take away the production materials of his paper, the raid affected his company’s plan to hit the newsstand early. His newspaper, he said, could not be printed as scheduled.
The police spokesperson for the state could not be reached for comments.