Members of a task force said to be working for the office of Aba Urban Renewal under the Abia State Ministry of Works, on Friday confiscated copies of newspapers belonging to a vendor in Aba, the commercial nerve centre of Abia State.
A vendor, Mr. Nwankwo Chijioke, whose copies of newspapers were seized, told Southern City News the task force visited his newspaper stand at the wee hours of the day and without prior notice, ordered him to stop selling the papers at the Living Word Junction in Aba.
The newsstand is known to be a gathering point of many residents of the city.
Sources informed Southern City News that the task force teams acted on instruction by the State Ministry of Works and Transport.
According to a witness, the vendor had complied with the order of the task force team by removing the newspapers already displayed on the table, but trouble started when a member of the task force reportedly picked one of the papers and attempted to disappear without payment.
The vendor accosted the task force member and asked for payment. But rather than pay, the officer became violent and forcefully parked all the newspapers into the team’s waiting vehicle, instructing the vendor to appear before the court to answer a case relating to sale of newspaper at an unlawful place.
“I was disappointed by the behavior of the said government task force team who frustrated my business for the day,” Chijioke said.
Some vendors in Aba who spoke with Southern City News, condemned the development and wondered if the state government wanted to deprive the people of the opportunity of accessing newspapers in the state, especially in Aba.
James Obinna, a regular newspaper customer said he was saddened by the situation and urged Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to create conducive environment for vendors to sell their papers.
It was gathered that Chijioke had yet to collect his impounded newspapers, and an undisclosed amount of money seized by the state agents,
Chijioke called on Ikpeazu to order the release of his newspapers and the money seized by task force members.
Efforts made by Southern City News to reach the Commissioner for Works and Transports, Mr. Eziuche Ubani, for comments proved abortive as he was said to be out on official engagement when the reporter visited his office in Umuahia, the Abia State capital.