A newspaper publisher, Peter Eke and nine of his workers have been arrested by operatives of the Lagos State Police Command for floating an alleged seditious, unregistered weekly called Biafra Times.
Eke, Ayodeji Gbemi, Akeem Bisiriyu, Jamiu Oleowo, Shakiru Folorunsho, Azeez Ayoola, Rafiu Kachu, Adewunmi Tope, Kunle Olushola and Akeem Adebakin were paraded at the command headquarters in Ikeja by the state Police Commissioner, Fatai Owoseni, who said thy would be charged to court for seditious publication under Sections 150 and 401 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos, 2011.
According to Owoseni, policemen stormed 33, Oguntolu Street, Shomolu and discovered that the suspects had turned a room into a printing press and were producing seditious materials, which they distributed to vendors.
He said: “When we got the intelligence report, a team of policemen were quickly sent to the address and they found a printing press where Biafra Times was being published.
“We arrested 10 people and seized the plates and 515 copies of the print run. It’s an offence punishable under the criminal law of Lagos State under Section 105, which deals with obscene publications.
“Also, Section 401 captures offences relating to terrorism. It is punishable under the Criminal Code, a Federal law under the chapters that deals with seditious report.
“The exhibits are in police custody and the police worked throughout the night to interrogate them and we have liaised with the Attorney General of the state on the situation.”
Denying any links with pro-Biafra agitators, the suspects said they were only after making money for themselves.
Eke said: “I am not aware that my publication is seditious. I only saw it from a commercial point of view. I have not registered the Biafra Times but my sports and politics papers are registered. I started Biafra Times because we discovered that each time we ran Biafra stories on the other papers, we usually had huge sales.
“So, we thought that having a paper with Biafra in its title would attract more money for us. And it worked because we usually print between 6,000 to seven 7,000 copies a week and we sell. The paper is sold at N100 per copy but we give vendors at N60.
“I was trying to recoup the money I spent on setting up the printing press. I bought the four printing machines at N2.1 million each.
“That was when I decided to focus on Biafra Times. I am not a Biafran member, I merely cashed in on the situation at hand to make money.”