The alleged order from the Akwa Ibom State government banning the sale of newspapers in some strategic places in Uyo metropolis has not gone down well with the public, especially the direct victims (vendors) who have expressed worry over the situation and have vowed to protest by refusing to sell pro-government tabloids like Pioneer Newspapers.
The draconian order seemingly climaxed last Thursday when a vendor named Unyime was beaten to coma and his wares seized as he carried out his legitimate business adjacent to the reopened Ibom Plaza mini market.
In a chat with this reporter, a vendor who declined to be mentioned vented anger on the issue and said that agents who claimed to be sent by government initially warned them not allow readers cluster at their news stand to discuss political issues.
According to him, when they (vendor) refused to heed the warning, government agents banned sale of papers at some strategic locations where people gather to bare their minds on goings-on in government.
On the fateful Thursday, efforts by Unyime and his colleagues to enlighten the seemingly illiterate government agents that for the sake of convenience, vendors around the world ply their trade by the road side, proved abortive as the armed agents descended on the hapless vendors and even threatened to arrest people who tried to rescue the vendors.
The situation has led to poor sales by vendors as they ply their trade with fear of being arrested. These days, vendors dread going to places like Wellington Bassey Way, Ibom Plaza by Oron Road-Aka Road-Ikot Ekpene Road and other adjoining streets in the metropolis.
The present administration in its perceived bid to truncate press freedom has been wielding its sledge hammer on journalists by threatening, arresting and detaining them. Vendors are not left out as they are severally assaulted as experienced by the said vendor known simply as Unyime.
Editor’s Note: The reporter who filed this in is currently under pressure to disown the report. We purposely omitted his name for security reasons