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Media watchdog says Nigerian gov't disrupting distribution of several newspapers

LAGOS, Nigeria - The Nigerian government confiscated or destroyed copies of at least four major newspapers, a media watchdog group said.

"Denying Nigerians access to news and information sows the seeds of rumours and distrust," Sue Valentine, the Committee to Protect Journalists' Africa co-ordinator said on Friday, citing information on The Punch newspaper's website.

Defence headquarters spokesman Chris Olukolade said on Friday the military searched trucks carrying newspapers after receiving intelligence "indicating movement of materials with grave security implications across the country using the channel of newsprint related consignments."

The Punch newspaper accused the military of disrupting distribution of copies on Saturday as well.

"Soldiers ordered them to go home, insisting that they would not allow the distribution of the newspapers," the newspaper said in a statement on its website.

CPJ said Nigeria's Leadership, Vanguard and The Nation newspapers were also affected Friday, among others. The Daily Trust said delivery truck drivers were arrested Friday.

On Saturday, soldiers confiscated copies from newspapers including Leadership, ThisDay, Daily Trust, Sun, Pilot, Newswatch, and The Mirror, The Punch said. Immediate comment from Olukolade was not available.

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