The Leadership and members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Imo State Council and Senator Samuel Anyanwu have condemned totally the gestapo style of invasion and arrest of newspaper vendors and distributors in Owerri on Monday.Imo NUJ and Senator Anyanwu in their separate press releases which was made available to Weekend Starpost Express, described the invasion and arrest of Newspapers vendors and distributors in Owerri as a threat to freedom of information.Imo NUJ in a press release signed by Comrade Chris Akaraonye, Chairman and Juliet Dim, Secretary noted that, “Investigations by Imo NUJ, policemen from the Inspector General of Police, Intelligence Response Team (IRT) swooped on the newspaper vendors and distributors at Rotibi Street, Owerri, where newspapers and magazines are usually distributed, and arrested no fewer than seven of the vendors.”“Efforts by the leadership of NUJ in Imo to find out what happened to the arrested vendors revealed that they were taken to the Imo Police Command Headquarters, Owerri.”“The investigation by the Union also revealed that the State Police Command and the DSS in State had no knowledge of the embarrassing invasion and arrest of the people carrying out their lawful business to eke out a living.” “Imo NUJ states that the invasion and subsequent arrest of the newspaper vendors was more embarrassing as the Imo Police Command and DSS were not even aware of the plan until it was fully executed.”“That we equally consider it an insult that the Imo State Governor as the Chief Security Officer of the State, and his government, were also not informed about the planned invasion and arrest of newspaper vendors.”“That we demand that the presidency and police authorities should investigate the embarrassing invasion and arrest of newspaper vendors by the IGP’s IRT squad.”“That this type of invasion and arrest raised further the tension in Imo over the activities of unknown gunmen as there were reported panic around Douglas area of Owerri by people going about their businesses.”” Imo NUJ wishes to advise that the extant laws of the Nation have enough and sufficient laws to take care of any infraction with regards to publications that are likely to breach public peace and security.”“Such perceived infractions should equally be properly handled by courts of competent jurisdiction and not resorting to a gestapo style of invasion and arrest as if the nation is under a military junta.”“That the leadership of the NUJ in collaboration with the State Commissioner for Information, the Police, DSS and the leadership of Newspaper Publishers have secured the release of those arrested.”“The NUJ will never support anything that will legally undermine the peace and security of Nigerians and the Nigerian nation. The Imo NUJ calls on journalists, media workers and ancillary service providers to remain calm and go about their lawful duties as the leadership of the union is working with other stakeholders and security agencies to resolve the issue and get to the root of the matter.”“The NUJ wishes to commend the efforts of the Commissioner of Information, Mr Declan Emelumba, Commissioner of Police, Director, DSS and leadership of Imo Newspaper Publishers Association (INPA) for their efforts and cooperation to secure the release of the arrested vendors.”Further Senator Samuel Anyanwu in a press release signed by his Special Adviser, Media, Ikenna Onuoha described the arrest as dangerous to democracy, adding that such act was an underground attempt to gag the press.Senator Anyanwu, a Chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Imo State further advised against the use of force on innocent citizens in the cause of performing lawful duties,noting that unprofessional conducts of some security agents was capable of generating tension in the state.“Press freedom entails that every citizen was at liberty to express his opinion through oral or written channels, therefore impedes constitutional provisions when government begins to intimidate, harass and manhandles those exercising their rights.”Anyanwu, an erstwhile Senate Committee Chairman on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions maintained that democracy becomes useless when the press freedom was hampered and threatened by agents of government expected to protect it.“The press has played a pivotal role in nation building, and any attempt by whosoever to intimidate, harass, manhandle Journalists, Vendors or to gag the press will be highly resisted. The press is the watchdog of the society, and there is need to accord them every necessary assistance to thrive. When they feel threatened, it therefore affects their style of reportage. We must allow them to function freely” He stated.He called on the government and her agencies still holding newspaper vendors and Journalists in their custody to release them unconditionally, saying that such move would go a long way in reducing the already hyped tension and instill sanity in the state.