The Inspector General of Police (IG) Intelligent Response Team (IRT) on Monday arrested five newspaper vendors in Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria’s South-east, for allegedly promoting activities of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
When contacted, the Commissioner of Police in Imo State, Abutu Yaro, confirmed the arrest but said the operatives were not from his command.
One of the arrested vendors, Onyebuchi Iwundu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at a police station that the IRT operatives arrested them at Rotibi Street, a popular newspaper circulation street, off Douglas Road in the early hours of Monday.
Mr Iwundu said they were accused of circulating newspapers that promote the activities of IPOB.
He said he and others were manhandled before being taken to the police station for detention.
The vendor said the operatives confiscated their papers and money, adding that they had been warned not to circulate newspapers that promote IPOB activities.
Other vendors arrested have been identified as Isinwa Blessing, Nelson, Micheal and Sakatan.
NAN reported that the circulation manager of New Telegraph newspaper, Chuck Ugwuibe, was arrested on Tuesday at Banana junction Orlu and has been in police custody.
Eastern Security Network, a security arm of IPOB, appears to have a strong presence in Imo.
Besides the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east, the perennial conflicts between farmers and herders, and the abduction for ransom in various parts of Nigeria, there has been a spate of deadly attacks on security agencies in the South-east and South-south geopolitical zones, which has compounded the security challenges in the two regions.
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