Thursday, September 5, 2019 2:33 pm
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
Newspaper vendors in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State have embarked on indefinite strike over the detention of their female colleague by a task force set up against street trading by Governor Nyesom Wike.
The vendors who said they are protesting against the harassment, intimidation and eventually detention of a female newspaper Vendor on the orders of a Mobile Court following her arrest by Taskforce on Street Trading and Illegal Motor Parks on Thursday refused to pick newspapers for sale.
The arrest and subsequent detention of the female vendor is also eliciting angry reactions from journalists.
Anayo Onukugha, the immediate past Assistant Secretary of the Rivers State branch of the Nigeria Union of Journalists,NUJ, and Assistant Editor (Regional Editor, South-South) at Leadership Newspapers Group Limited, condemned the action pointing out that if newspapers are not sold, journalists won’t receive their salaries.
According to him,”All over the world, newspapers Vendors are not treated like roadside or street traders, they are important to the society. In London, New York or Paris, newspapers are sold on the streets.
“I appeal to those concerned especially, Chairman of the taskforce, Hon. Bright Amaewhule, to do the needful and ensure the release of the female Vendor and ensure that Newspaper Vendors are allowed to do their job as a critical stakeholders in the value chain of information dissemination”.
The issue of harassment by the taskforce is also being discussed online. In her Facebook post, one Deborah Ogolo said, “I seriously advise that newspaper vendors be allowed to carry on with their sales. They don’t litter the streets with debris, neither do they occupy spaces on the road.
Nwibakpo Golden narrateded his encounter with the members of the taskforce: the boys harassed me yesterday at Eliozu. “One of them jumped into a moving vehicle and the driver lost control and everybody was shouting for our safety. I confronted them and their boys apologized but these guys were even threatening to fight me. I suggest they should tag their names on their vest to recognize them because some of them are criminals.”
Lawson Parakom, a local publisher, said the taskforce leader and his co-travellers should be educated that newspaper vendors are not street traders and they deserve dignified treatment and respect.
At time of filing this report, efforts were afoot to secure the release of the detained vendor and also, to stop the harassment of newspaper vendors in Rivers State.