On July 29, 2019, newspaper distributors and vendors in Awka, the Anambra State capital embarked on an indefinite strike citing extortion of its members by officials of Operation Clean and Healthy Anambra State (OCHA). As a result, newspapers and magazines were not displayed at the newsstands at UniZik Junction, Aroma, and opposite Fire Service, Amawbia and other newsstands in the city.
The Nigeria Distributors’ Association, Awka chapter, in a petition to the Secretary to the State Government signed by its acting Chairman, Emeka Nweze and Secretary, Ifeanyi Nwafor, and made available to journalists claimed that its members were being harassed and intimidated.
The association alleged in its petition that officials of OCHA Brigade have been extorting money from vendors saying “newspaper distributors and vendors have been passing through the nightmare in the hands of the officials of OCHA Brigade for a long time.
“The officials have been clamping down on our members, intimidating and harassing us, seizing the items we use in the display of our newspapers and at times extorting money from us.’’
The association lamented that these incidents were happening in spite of its members operating at designated sales spots/stands approved by Anambra State Environmental Sanitation Agency adding that government officials had confiscated items belonging to the vendors worth over N70, 000 in the past three months.
It vowed that members would discontinue distribution of newspapers and magazines in the area until the state government assured them of their safety in the state.
The Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C-Don Adinuba, promised take up the matter with OCHA Brigade boss, with a view to immediately resolve it.