JANUARY 20, 2005
Posted February 7, 2005

Eastern PilotCENSORED

State Security Service (SSS) agents raided newsstands and harassed vendors selling copies of the local tabloid Eastern Pilot in the southeastern city of Enugu. The SSS also detained and questioned Clement Egbuche, the Enugu chairman of the Newspapers Vendors’ Association of Nigeria, and searched his office, according to the Lagos-based press freedom organization Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and local news reports.

The SSS raid targeted Eastern Pilot because it included reports about the Movement for the Advancement of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) alleging the “emergence of a new Biafra nation,” according to local sources. Local media outlets and the MRA reported that an SSS official confirmed the incident and said Eastern Pilot was “subversive.”

MASSOB, an organization based in eastern Nigeria, claims an independent state in the area for members of Nigeria’s Igbo ethnic group. In 1967, three eastern states attempted to secede as the Republic of Biafra, with Enugu as its capital, sparking a bloody three-year civil war.

In September 2004, SSS agents arrested Isaac Umunna, an editorial consultant to the small, private, Lagos-based weekly Global Star and detained him for eight days after the paper published stories on MASSOB.