In what can be described as about 70 per cent compliance of the sit-at home order at the instance of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, yesterday, many parts of the south east zone were shut down for business and other economic activities apart from Ebonyi and a few other places that recorded skeletal activities.
The sit-at-home was in remembrance of Biafran fallen heroes and those killed in the struggle for the actualization of Biafra. Reports across states in the south east revealed that shops, markets and banks were shut down in Enugu, Aba, Onitsha and Nnewi while Awka and Ebonyi recorded activities. Similarly, sit-at-home order was ignored in Owerri and Umuahia.
In Abakaliki, the sit-at-home order flopped as citizens of the state were seen going about their normal businesses without harassment and intimidation Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State had during his May 29th Democracy celebration warned that any trader that closed his shop in line with the directive of IPOB would forfeit it forever.
In Awka, what was perceived as fear of what might happen kept most people indoors in the morning hours, even as those who carried out their businesses had nothing to worry about. Banks in Awka also operated without any molestation, just as government and private offices were also open for businesses.
How the sit-at-home was observed:
Total compliance in Enugu
Enugu State witnessed total compliance in observing the day. A tour around Enugu town by Vanguard showed that few movements were noticed as shops, markets and schools remain closed with few people seen around, although few commercial transport businesses were seen making brisk business and picking up few commuters who had come out.
At the ever busy Main Market Enugu, nearly all the shops were closed. The few opened shops were seen selling to few customers who came to make purchases. A businessman at Ogbete main line who deals on cosmetics and medical products, Cosmas Agbo, who spoke with Vanguard said: “Even though my shop is opened, I support the Biafran struggle and my heart is with them. Nobody has come to my shop to buy but I’m still here.” A visit to some secondary schools and tertiary institutions in Enugu showed total compliance in the remembrance day celebration.
In Nsukka,business and social engagements were on partially as few people were seen moving about major spots in the area.
At Ogige market, few traders were seen opening their shops and business places while many others were under lock and key. Other traders were seen milling around in front of their shops, while others gathered in small groups chatting and conversing about the day’s development.
At some transport companies in the area, few buses were seen parked in the premises with few commuters purchasing tickets for their journey. “They said we should not open our shops, so, I just decided to come around and see what is happening. I just want to be around my shop in case something bad happens,” Okey Eze, one of the traders in the market said.
Shops, schools, banks closed in Onitsha
There was total compliance in Onitsha and Nnewi with all the markets and shops in the two cities shut. Commercial banks in the two cities, roads and streets markets all observed the directive as people stayed back in their homes in observance of the directive.
All the Federal highways especially Onitsha-Enugu expressway, from Asaba end of the road to Zik’s Roundabout to New Motor Spare Parts Nkpor, down to former Ogbunike Toll gate were ghosts of themselves as motorists and people deserted the roads in observance of the sit-at-home order.
As early as 6am when Vanguard visited Upper Iweka, while returning from Nnewi, Upper Iweka which is known for its busy nature was deserted, even Newspaper distribution to Owerri and Awka was impossible as vehicles that distribute them were no where to be seen.
IPOB member shot in Nnewi
Even with the total compliance of the sit-at-home order in Nnewi, a member of the IPOB was allegedly shot in a clash with a combined team of the Army and Police at St Mary’s Anglican Church junction Nnewi.
According to an eye witness, as early as 7:30am, some people suspected to be members of IPOB started making bonfire and blocking the roads. When they were accosted by the combined team of Police and Army who tried to stop them, there was altercation which led to the shooting of the victim at St Mary’s Anglican Church junction.
“The incident resulted to gathering of people in small groups, discussing the IPOB issues in low tunes, while the Police, Army and local vigilance groups on joint patrol moved from street to street clearing the roads for vehicular and human movement,” an eye witness said.
No movement in Port Harcourt
There was huge success of the order in many areas of Rivers State, especially Port-Harcourt where most businesses are owned and operated by Igbos. At Oyibo Local Government area of the state, the border LGA of Abia State, business activities were totally paralysed as the order witnessed total compliance.
The popular Ikoku spare parts market and some shops were opened for business activities. The same situation was replicated at Garrison market and Kala iron market.
A business owner at Mile 1 Market, who simply gave his name as Uchechukwu said the order was not binding on every Igbo man, adding that it was “for those who believe in the activities of IPOB that are mandated to obey the order.”
Tragedy in Aba
Tragedy struck in Aba, Abia State when soldiers shot dead a young man near Uratta junction, Port Harcourt Road area of the city.
Eyewitnesses told Vanguard that some hoodlums invaded the area and started enforcing the sit -at-home order, stopping residents who were going about their businesses. “Some hoodlums came to the road and started harassing people that they should go home because of the order.
As they were forcing people to obey the order, a patrol team of soldiers came to the area and started shooting. People ran away but a stray bullet hit a young man,” the eye witness said. However, there was total compliance as markets, banks and other business centres were shut. Schools were also shut while the roads in the city were deserted as there was no vehicular movement.
Sit-at-home fails in Abakaliki
The IPOB order flopped in Ebonyi State, as citizens of the state were seen going about their normal businesses without harassment and intimidation When Vanguard visited the Abakaliki Main Market, meat market and Kpirikpiri markets within the metropolis around 9am, they were all opened for business as a joint patrol of security agencies with over 20 vehicles were seen patrolling the streets of the city to forestall any breakdown of law and order.
However, major transport companies like Peace Mass and Ebotrans as at the time of this report were not loading to Aba, Onitsha and Port Harcourt, where they felt people would obey the sit-at-home order of IPOB.
Shops opened in Awka
FEAR of what might happen kept most people in Awka indoors in the morning hours of yesterday following the sit-at-home order by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, even as those who carried out their businesses had nothing to worry about.
Apart from the commercial city of Onitsha and the industrial town of Nnewi, where business activities were paralyzed in the morning, markets and shops in Awka, the state capital, were opened for business. Banks in Awka also operated without any molestation, just as government and private offices were also open for businesses.
Vanguard gathered that the leadership of Okada riders held a meeting on Tuesday during which they decided not to observe the sit-at-home, which was why they operated freely in all parts of the capital territory.
In other parts of Anambra State, such as Ihiala, Ekwulobia, Otuocha, Umunze, among others, business activities took place without any hindrance. Security men were also seen moving in convoys, obviously to ensure that no one was molested.
Reacting on the non compliance in some cities, the IPOB media and publicity secretary, Mr. Emma Powerful said in a telephone interview that it was as a result of attempts by the South East governors to sabotage the event. Powerful said that in Port Harcourt where he monitored the sit-at-home exercise, the people complied fully, and wondered why core Igbo cities like Awka would do otherwise, if not for the activities of the governors. Some people who spoke to Vanguard said they stayed at home because they were not certain of what might happen on the streets.
Partial compliance in Owerri
The order was not completely obeyed in Owerri, Imo State. In Owerri metropolis, some students were seen returning home before the 2pm closing hour.
However, there were free movement of motorists and commuters in the area monitored. Streets like, Wethedral, Douglas, Orji, Assumpta Avenue, Onitsha and Portharcourt were active. When Vanguard visited Eke-Ukwu market, traders were seen buying and selling their wares. “I lost two shops in the demolition of Eke Ukwu Market by the government.
I lost millions in that act of wickedness. So I have to come out to sell my goods just to get money to feed my children,” said one of the traders, who gave his name only as Enyeribe.
Residents of Umuahia, the Abia State capital did not comply with the sit-at-home order of IPOB as commercial and social activities went on unhindered in the city.
Government offices were opened with civil servants at the State Secretariat going about their normal businesses; private and public schools were also open, except those who were on mid-term break, all the banks in the city opened for normal business as well as markets and shops on the streets. Commercial vehicles, including Keke operators engaged in their normal businesses.
A civil servant, Emeka Ekwenyi said the sit-at-home was not necessary, as it would only end up inflicting hardship and at times injuries on the people. “If the IPOB members decided to sit-at-home, it is okay for them, but they should impose it on the people. Like I said every Igbo man believes in Biafra but the way to get it is not the way IPOB goes about it. I think they should be civil and work with elders of the region”.
MASSOB leads coalition of pro-Biafra groups to support IPOB
Meanwhile, a coalition of pro-Biafra groups yesterday called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to reverse without further delay, the wrong labelling of peaceful non-violent unarmed people agitatitain for Biafra, particularly, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB as terrorist group.
The call was made by Dr Dozie Ikedife and MASSOB leader Comrade Uchenna at Rojenny Tourist Village during the coalitions 51st Annivinersary in celebration of a Biafra Declarationby Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. In an address presented by Dr Ikedife, he said: “All who are hungry for self determination for pepple of Biafra land through either legal process, diplomatic process, dialogue consuktation, referrandum or legislative process should come together and speak with one mind and voice.
“In-fighting is totally negative and counter productive, now that many groups have emerged, allare talking about one issue.” Comrade Madu in his speech said: “We may disagree as a different groups due to ideological differences but we are all working together to achieve Biafra.”
Police arrests Onwuka, 21 Biafra
The Enugu State Police command said it arrested over twenty-one members of Biafra Zionist Federation, BZF, including it’s leader Mr. Benjamin Onwuka on the Biafra Day celebration. Onwuka was recently granted bail after many years of incaceration for attempt to declare a republic of Biafra on an Enugu live radio. Enugu State Police Spokesman, Ebere Amaraizu who confirmed arrest of Onwuka and others on Wednesday said: “Our operatives today nabbed the leader of Biafran Zionist Movement identified as one Bejamin Onwuka alongside some of his members numbering about 21.
“He was nabbed within the Enugu metropolis alongside his members based on the intelligence information.” Onwuka has been standing trial in the court of competent court of jurisdiction over his alleged role of murder, Armed Robbery and unlawful possession of firearms before he resurfaced today but fell into the hands of the eagle eyed security operatives of the command.”
Amaraizu said the suspects were helping the operatives in their investigation. He further noted that “there were movement of vehicles, commuters and traders within and outside the metropolis contrary to the early threat and order of SIT AT HOME. “Security operatives were seen at strategic places just as shops, media houses, markets and banks were open to the members of the public.”zionists in Enugu
Biafra National Guard launches
Meanwhile, the Biafra National Gaurd, BNG, said they used the auspices of the Biafra Day to launch a transitional government, noting that the sit at home is a mark of respect and acceptance of the government of Biafra by the people. Spokesman BNG, Nsikak Apkan said the Biafran Transitional Government will continue to oversee affairs pending when their leader shall make a live broadcast. Nsikak Apkan in a press statement in Enugu revealed that the unveiling of the new government was for effective and speedy restoration of Biafra and “following the review of Biafran Shadow Government.” He said: “The people of Biafra make neither war, nor peace, with the state or people of Nigeria, rather, we exercise a natural right, a popular right, a political right, and a right supported by United Nations Organisation Charter and International Laws- the right to Self-determination.”transitional govt
IPOB celebrates success of sit-at-home
Meantime, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, yesterday celebrated the success recorded in yesterday’s sit-at-home in the south-east and some parts of the south-south.
A statement issued by IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful reads:“We the family members of IPOB worldwide wish to congratulate all Biafrans and lovers of freedom all over Biafraland and various parts of Southern Nigeria who contributed immensely towards the successful outcome of our heroes remembrance day by sitting at home as directed by the leadership of IPOB.
We salute the uncommon courage and resoluteness of all Biafrans that defied the military threats, intimidation from Arewa Consultative Forum and S’East governors to sit-at-home across the length and breadth of Biafraland.”