The police in Akwa Ibom State have arrested a newspaper distributor, Chidi Ngadiubi.
Mr Ngadiubi was arrested on Friday at his shop in Uyo after some police operatives attempted to arrest the publisher/editor of a local newspaper, The Mail.
The Mail has lately been publishing reports considered critical of the Akwa Ibom State government interest, especially on the alleged certificate forgery against the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state, Umo Eno.
Mr Ngadiubi has been in detention at the Criminal Investigation Department at the police headquarters in Uyo.
The Chairperson of the Newspaper Distributors Association in the state, Essien Ewoh, told PREMIUM TIMES that the police refused to release Mr Ngadiubi on bail to him when he visited the police headquarters on Saturday.
He said the police told him that the order to arrest the newspaper distributor “came from above”.
According to him, the police said the chairperson of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) must produce the publisher of The Mail, Ifreke Nseowo, before the newspaper vendor is released.
Meanwhile, the NUJ in Akwa Ibom State has condemned an attempt by the police to “abduct” the Mail publisher, Mr Nseowo.
The union, in a statement on Saturday in Uyo, described the strategy employed by the police in their attempt to arrest the publisher as “crude”.
The statement, signed by Amos Etuk (chairperson) and Dominic Akpan (secretary), demanded the immediate release of the newspaper vendor.
The statement said the arrest of Mr Ngadiubi was against the new Akwa Ibom State Justice Administration Law, which forbids the police from arresting a person in place of another.
“While the NUJ is not against the Police arresting any member of the Union who has contravened the law, it is quick to point out that it must follow due process of the law.
“In the case of the current plot to arrest Mr Nseowo, the Union insists that the right thing would be to invite him to the police station, where he would be informed of the allegations against him, instead of the crude tactics of arresting Mr Ndagiubia, in lieu of Mr Nseowo.
“However, the Union insists that if the plot to arrest Mr Nseowo is connected to any story published in his newspaper, the aggrieved party should seek a redress in Court.
“If the publication has criminal contents, Mr Nseowo should be invited, instead of the frantic attempts to take him into custody like a common criminal,” the NUJ said.