…Partial compliance in Anambra
…paralyses activities in Imo
In spite of persuasions by security agents, market union leaders and other associations to disregard the sit at home call by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, in commemoration of those killed last year during the Operation Python Dance II in Umuahia, Abia State, residents of Enugu metropolis and environs still complied with the order, as many shops and transporters did not come out for business.
Although it was not a total compliance like the previous ones, some major streets were deserted, especially in the morning hours up to 10 o’clock in the morning.
Recall that the police had told Enugu residents to disregard the order and go about their normal businesses, because they were ready to protect them should there be any molestation regarding the order.
Subsequently, a combined team of security agencies on Wednesday, prior to the sit at home order, embarked on patrol of some major streets in Enugu as part of joint training to forestall a possible break down of law and order by any group that might want to foment trouble, not only in Enugu but the entire South-East.
Surprisingly, a sister pro-Biafra group, Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra/Biafra Independence Movement, MASSOB-BIM, equally called on the people to disregard the sit at home that was becoming too many.
However, in spite of the daunting calls to disregard the order, IPOB hinsisted that the order must be complied with because it would show the world that they meant to ensure the liberation of Biafrans from Nigeria, not minding intimidations and harassments from different quarters.
It threatened to lock down the entire South-East to send the signal that Biafra must be achieved.
“The leadership and family members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, wish to reaffirm our resolve and determination to ensure a total lockdown of the whole of Biafraland (South East/South South) contrary to the childish and laughable utterances and threats from poorly educated Fulani police commissioners in Imo, Anambra and Enugu.
“The order from IPOB remains that every Biafran, both home and abroad, is expected to stay indoors, away from work, market and roads, from dusk on Thursday, September 13, to dawn on Friday, September 14, 2018.
“A special compliance unit has been set up by IPOB High Command to monitor and take record of traitors and saboteurs who may have been recruited by the government to undermine the sanctity of the occasion. Any person or persons found outside on the 14th of September 2018 will be recorded as an enemy of Biafra and dealt with accordingly. Such person or persons along with their families will face the eternal wrath and consequences of their actions. This IPOB generation will not forgive any act of treachery capable of derailing our march to freedom,” the organisation said in a statement signed by its spokesman, Emma Powerful.
Probably in compliance to the appeal by different organisations to disregard the order, some markets like Garriki opened for business, as well as the Ogbete Main Market where so many shops were opened for business.
Traders at Mayo and Kenyatta Markets, however, seemed to have aligned with the IPOB order, as many shops remained closed and traffic around the markets reduced drastically while civil servants went about their duties as if nothing was going on.
A tricycle operator told our reporter that he had to come out because sitting at home would not provide the needs of his family.
“Initially I didn’t want to come out but when I saw that there was movement, I decided to come. After all sitting at home will not put food on my table,” he said.
A commercial driver who defied the order however complained that there were not many passengers on the road.
“I know that there is sit at home but I have to come out to fend for myself. Even though many passengers are not on the road, there is not I can do,” he lamented.
Meanwhile, the sit-at-home exercise was partly complied with in major cities of Anambra State, especially Onitsha, Nnewi and Ekwulobia.
The pro-Biafra group had asked its members across the South-East and South-South states to stay indoors in honour of their leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
It was discovered that most residents of the state complied and stayed indoors, as most schools and markets did not open for activities.
Most of the banks, especially those in Onitsha and Nnewi, were under lock and key, with the exception of Automated Teller Machines, ATM, that attracted skeletal patronage.
Few traders in Awka who opened their shops for customers were however jittery and apprehensive.
While Onitsha and Nnewi did not witness any human and vehicular movements, there were minimal vehicular movements on the major streets and roads.
Most residents kept their vehicles off the roads, as they boarded available commercial buses and tricycles to their offices.
At the state secretariat, few civil servants were seen working while others were chatting with colleagues in clusters.
A parent who gave his name as Mr. Emma Elekwa said he took his kids to school as early as 7.16am, but was turned back by the few teachers who said they were there to register their presence.
“I was very disappointed when I was turned back because if they had informed us that there won’t be school today, I couldn’t have wasted my time coming here,” he lamented.
A student of Saint John of God Secondary School, Awka, Emelia, said she did not go to school because they were told to stay at home due to the order.
A trader, Mrs Nweke, who resides in Nkpor with her family, said, “We decided to stay at home because if we venture out and anything happens to you, you will be blamed.”
The observance of the exercise by most residents of Anambra State came against the backdrop of the warning which the police and other security agencies gave to members of the public to ignore the IPOB directive and go about their normal businesses.
However, the state Police Public Relation Officer, Haruna Mohammed said, “Compliance is poor as people, commuters and traders are seen going about their lawful businesses without harassment or intimidation.”
He said the command deployed adequate security to the nooks and crannies of the state, including critical government installations, while undercover operatives were also deployed to gather intelligence.
“Meanwhile, enhanced visibility patrols and joint show of force of all security agencies within the neighbourhood and highways are ongoing. All major entry and exit routes in the state are well secured.
“The Commissioner of Police, Garba Baba Umar is presently out to assess level of security deployment in the state,” Haruna stated.
However, information gathered by Nigerian Pilot has it that the exercise almost paralysed socio-economic activities in Imo State, following palpable fear among the citizenry over a possible clash between security operatives and members of IPOB.
In Owerri, the state capital, and its environs, commercial activities were to some extent paralysed as transporters and motorists stayed away from some of the roads, even as quite few residents dared to go about their normal business.
Our correspondent reports that most of the supermarkets, eateries, roadside markets, filling stations, commercial banks, public and private schools, as well as offices remained closed in the day, although several civil servants and artisans went about their normal business in skeletal scale.
Several residents of Owerri and other towns in the state remained indoors while commuters had difficulties in getting to their various destinations because of scarcity of commercial vehicles.
In areas where they managed to operate, the few vehicles plying the routes made brisk business as they had a field day charging outrageous fares.
Even the popular Taximo and Busimo taxis that littered the roads and streets of the capital city were hard to see, especially in popular areas like Douglas, Wetheral, Royce, Tetlow and School Roads, as well as Orlu, Okigwe and Port Harcourt Roads.
The dearth of commercial vehicles plying the city and neighbouring areas such as Orlu, Mbano, Aba in Abia State, Ngor Okpala, etc. left the few daring commuters with no option than trekking long distances to their destinations.
However, skeletal commercial activities went on at the Relief Market and outskirts of the city while areas as Akwakuma, Amakohia, Orji, Egbu, Emekuku, Awaka, Naze and Ulakwo, all in Owerri North Local Government Area and Enyiogugu in Aboh Mbaise had business activities going in appreciable scale despite the IPOB order.
Patrol vehicles fully loaded with armed mobile policemen and those of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, were sighted in the metropolis while strategic junctions were cordoned off, apparently to forestall possible break down of law and order.
Also, heavily armed security presence was noticed as they were stationed to man strategic public establishments, just as stern looking security operatives mounted roads and thoroughly screened motorists.
Commenting on the development, the state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Andrew Enwerem noted that the IPOB order was ignored by the Imo public and commended them for that.