Men of the Nigeria Police Force under the Rivers State Command attached to the State Ministry of Urban Development, on Friday, June 16, 2017, allegedly broke into the office of the Nativity Communications Company Limited publishers of The Neighbourhood Newspaper, and owners of The Neighbourhood TV/Radio 96.5FM (online and Nativity Press.
They arrested four persons, including the editor of the weekly, Kelechi Asogwa-Amadi, two operators in the press and a customer.
The police men, who were armed to the teeth, manacled the four who they led away to their Hilux vehicle, and subsequently drove away with them.
Soon as the Nativity staffers were bundled into the vehicle and we’re driven away, the task force headed to Olu Obasanjo Road Station where they paraded the men, chained to the vehicle like hardened criminals.
The leader of the police team who refused to identify himself, in a telephone conversation with the Chief Operating Officer COO, Bekee Anyalewechi, confirmed that the Gestspo-like operation was undertaken because a member of staff used a cellphone to video the team’s action against roadside traders in front of the office.
The media house is situated in the thick of Diobu and Mile one trading zone. It is also the zone of media houses in Port Harcourt with the offices of the Correspondents Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ). Most national newspapers are located there.
The police team had yet to disclose which infraction of the law the arrested personnel were held liable, according to the COO of the organisation, Anyalewechi. He said: “The police action is condemnable, irreprehensible and draconian, a backward step against civilisation. We insist that at no time did the arrested personnel attack, confront, or block the police or the team from performing their lawful duties. Neither did at any time, the men they arrested, manacled and paraded as though they were prized felons, commit any crime.
“We demand their immediate unconditional release and apologies from the police and the Rivers State Ministry of Planning and Urban Development.
“This unfortunate, despicable conduct of the police confirms that we live in dangerous times. We must rise above this sort of decay.”