Economy Politics

No to siege on the press, says npan

Written by Maritime First

…Oil price jumps to $58.53 on OPEC cut***

The Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN) has received with shock the news of the Nigerian Army’s siege to the Daily Trust offices in Abuja, Lagos and Maiduguri over the weekend; arresting an editor and reporter in addition to seizure of computers thereby disrupting the operation of that newspaper.

Although the unwholesome  raid was called off on the order of the Presidency, and the Army has explained that its action was warranted by the violation of the Official Secret Act by the newspaper giving prior notice of military strategy and tactics to Boko Haram insurgents,  the siege left in its trail panic and anger reminscient of the military era brutalisation of the press and the people.

The last time in this Constitutional dispensation when the Army violated Constitutional guarantee of free speech was in June 2014 when the logistics for distribution of newspapers was wantonly disrupted and newspapers confiscated across the country on spurious allegation that materials “with grave security implications were being moved across the country through newsprint related consignments.”

That action warranted an apology and payment of token atonement to the newspaper houses by the Federal Government, although same was later criminalised and newspapers made to make refunds to the EFCC.

The weekend  siege on the Daily Trust newspaper premises, was clearly unconstitutional, without due process and   an act of self help. Additionally, it showed  a poor appreciation of the advancement in information dissemination in the global village where news is disseminated at the touch of a keyboard and not necessarily in a fixed address.  This is 2019 and those who gave the vexatious order ought to know better.

The NPAN condemns, in very strong terms, the siege on Daily Trust, the arrest and detention of its staff as well as seizure of its computers.

Where an infraction is alleged, the best option is to follow due process and civility;  not kneejerk, not intimidation and spread of fear in the civil society.

We have gone too far in search of law and order regime than to countenance such display of raw power and emotion over due process.

In the meantime, oil prices, yesterday, rose by about three per cent rebounding further from 1-1/2-year lows reached in December on support from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) production cuts and steadying equities markets.

Brent crude futures rose $1.47 to $58.53 a barrel, a 2.6 per cent gain, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose $1.56 to $49.52 a barrel, a 3.3 per cent gain.

Oil futures have gained about 10 per cent since last Monday. “Momentum is coming back into the market from very depressed price levels,” Petromatrix strategist Olivier Jakob said.

Prices drew support from an agreed supply cut by the OPEC as well as some non-member countries such as Russia and Oman.

OPEC oil supply fell in December by 460,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 32.68 million bpd, a development attributed to the cut in oil output by top exporter Saudi Arabia.

OPEC and its allies are trying to rein in a surge in global supply, driven mostly by the United States, where production surpassed 11 million bpd in 2018. Record high crude oil production has pushed up U.S. inventories.

In a related development, oil market continues to rally as the OPEC and non-OPEC production cuts are taking effect, reducing the oversupply situation that we’ve been seeing in the market,” said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.

U.S. crude inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for U.S. crude futures, fell by 565,000 barrels from last Tuesday to Friday, traders said, citing data from market intelligence firm Genscape.

Shares have risen on expectations that trade talks this week between the United States and China will ease a trade dispute. Disruptions to trade undermine prospects for economic growth and oil demand.

Goldman Sachs said in a note it had downgraded its average Brent crude oil forecast for 2019 to $62.50 a barrel from $70 due to “the strongest macro headwinds since 2015”.

Societe Generale cut its 2019 oil price forecast for Brent by $9 to $64 a barrel and reduced its forecast for U.S. light crude by $9 to $57 a barrel.

The Nation

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Maritime First