More than 15 years since Nigeria returned to Democratic rule in 1999, it appears the country is returning to the dark days of military dictatorship.
Reports emanating from the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja suggest that the Nigerian Defence Headquarters may have ordered a clampdown on the movement of newspaper circulation vans across the country.
It was gathered that some soldiers, who allegedly claimed that they were acting on orders from their superiors, waylaid newspaper vans around the Area 1 Road and commanding the drivers to unload.
The Nation reports that the same thing occurred in Benin/Warri Road, Port Harcourt, Kaduna/Kano Road and Nasarawa/Jos Road.
As at the time of compiling this report, it was gathered from an official of the Leadership Newspaper that some soldiers have confiscated today’s edition of the newspaper heading to the Northwest, Southeast and Southsouth regions of the country.
Azubike Ishiekwene, managing director of the Leadership Group, also stated that soldiers mounting a roadblock close to the tollgate along the Abuja-Kaduna expressway blocked the newspaper’s van heading to Kaduna and confiscated the entire consignment of the paper.
He added that the driver of the vehicle as well as another staff were also detained, with their telephones seized.
It was also revealed that another consignment of the paper being flown to states in the Southeast were also confiscated by authorities at the Abuja airport.
Mr. Ishiekwene said his company is yet to be informed the reason for the action.
Reports also say another detachment of soldiers have condoned off the Edo State office of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in Benin, demanding all copies of Leadership and Nation Newspapers from vendors.
Patrick Ochoga, the Edo state correspondent of the paper in Benin, told PREMIUM TIMES that the consignment of the paper heading to Kogi and Edo states was also intercepted and seized by soldiers in Kontagora.
Another newspaper distribution manager told newsmen that some heavily armed soldiers ordered them to load back their newspapers pending when a superior directive is given to allow them move to various distribution centres.
He said: “We were there for over two hours with practically all the newspapers printing in Abuja unable to get to the distribution centres while the head of the military team told us that he was waiting for a superior directive to release us.”
Efforts to speak with the Director of Defence Information, Brig.Gen. Chris Olukolade, proved abortive as all his lines were switched off.
It could be recalled that the Leadership Newspaper on Tuesday, 3 June, 2014, reported that nearly a dozen army generals and soldiers on lower ranks had been brought to trial for sabotaging the Nigerian government’s onslaught against Boko Haram.
The report drew extensive referencing in the international media.
The spokesperson of the Defence Headquarters, Chris Olukolade, a Major General, had said: “This falsehood had previously been refuted when it first reared its head but those concocting it appear hell bent on misleading Nigerians and the international community to give credence to the negative impression they are so keen to propagate about the Nigerian military.”
It is not clear if the paper is now being punished because of the report.
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