Street Trading: RSG Arrests, Prosecutes 300 Offenders

The Rivers State Task Force on Street Trading, Illegal Markets and Motor Parks has said that no fewer than 300 persons arrested for various offences have been prosecuted by mobile courts.
The state government had deployed magistrates to various mobile court locations to begin prosecution of street traders, illegal market operators and owners of unapproved motor parks.
Coordinator of the task force, Mr Bright Amaewhule, who disclosed this last Wednesday, said that the figures were obtained from the various mobile courts, pointing out that the defaulters were arrested between Monday and Tuesday, this week.
Amaewhule further stated that the task force would not be compromised in prosecuting offenders, just as he expressed happiness that reports of illegal task force members harassing and extorting money from members of the public have reduced.
According to him, "From the information reaching me from the various mobile courts, they have arrested and prosecuted over 300 offenders.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Rivers State Council, has called on the Rivers State Task Force on Street Trading and Illegal Motor Parks to exclude newspaper vendors from street trading restriction in the state.
The union noted with dismay that the Bright Amaewhule led task force which commenced operations last two weeks has been harassing newspaper vendors on the streets.
The NUJ, in a statement signed by its chairman and secretary, Stanley Job Stanley and Ike Wigodo, respectively, contended that newspaper vendors, going by universal standard, are usually excluded from any form of restrictions on the streets.
The union said that in view of the modus operandi of newspaper vendors across the world, they were not supposed to be affected by the ongoing war against street trading and illegal motor parks in the state.
According to the statement, "All over the world, newspaper vendors are an important agent of information dissemination that cannot be hounded out of the street. Even though their modus operandi is to hawk newspapers on the streets, they are not roadside traders and so cannot be treated as such.
"We are not against the maintenance of law and order in Rivers State. In fact, we welcome any move by the state government to restore sanity and orderliness to the state and return Port Harcourt in particular to its Garden City status.
"As a professional body made up of decent men and women, NUJ has always been in the vanguard of speaking against indecency, disorderliness and illegal business transactions on the streets".
The NUJ, therefore, appealed to the state government, especially the Task Force on Street Trading, to exclude newspaper vendors from the list of those to be hounded out of the streets.
While commending the National Association of Print Media Sales Representatives (NAPMSR), Rivers State Chapter, for their patience, the NUJ urged them to be orderly and law-abiding in the course of their operation.

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