Anambra State government has allegedly banned newspaper vendors from displaying papers in public places.
It was gathered that government agents have been pursuing vendors off newsstands, urging them to relocate to shops or offices to sell their papers.
Meanwhile, vendors in the state have protested the alleged ban.
The vendors said the ban was an infringement on citizens’ rights of freedom of the press.
They said government agents have been harassing them on a daily basis, asking them to rent offices/shops where they would sell their newspapers.
A female vendor at Aroma, who pleaded anonymity, said some government agents came to her newsstand and warned her to stop selling newspapers there from next week.
She added that when she asked them the reason for the quit notice, they told her it was Governor Soludo’s decision
“Even in London and America, vendors still sell newspapers on the newsstands, despite their development. Why is Soludo telling us to rent offices where we will be selling newspapers. Where is the money to do that at a time like this? We have planned to visit the Commissioner for Information to complain; if nothing positive comes out from our meeting with the Commissioner, we shall go to the State House of Assembly and call for his (Soludo) impeachment,” she said.
A lecturer at the department of Mass communication, UNIZIK, described the alleged ban as executive rascality.
“The mass media is central to the development of any democratic society. This has been generally acknowledged in developed societies to the extent that the media has often been described as the Fourth Estate of the Realm.”
“Nigeria, like other democracies, recognizes the role of the mass media and has gone to the extent of giving constitutional backing to it. The 1999 Constitution did not only guarantee every Nigerian freedom of expression and to own, establish and operate any medium for the dissemination of information, ideas, and opinions, but also gave obligations to the media to monitor governance and hold the government accountable to the people.
“Section 39 of the Constitution states that ‘Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.
“Section 22 of the Constitution states that the press, radio, television and other agencies of mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people.
“So, it’s only a government that has something to fear or hide that would want to restrict vendors from circulating newspapers and other periodicals ” he stated.