Chukwudi Akasike, Ihuoma Chiedozie, Clement Nnachi, Gibson Achonu, Chidiebube Okeoma, Tony Okafor and Sampson Itode
The sit-at-home order issued by the Indigenous People of Biafra did not go as planned in the South-East states and Rivers State in the South-South on Friday as many of the residents went about their business.
In Enugu, Ebonyi and Anambra, residents defied the sit-at-home order issued by IPOB as commercial activities were alive with no reported cases of harassment or attack.
But there was some level of compliance in Owerri and Aba in Imo and Abia states respectively.
IPOB had issued the order to residents of South-East and South-South to mark the first anniversary of the military invasion of the residence of the group’s leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
But in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, and its environs, residents defied the sit-at-home order as commercial activities went on normally.
Shops at the popular Abakpa Main Market, supermarkets and banks within the metropolis were all booming with commercial activities. Ministries, agencies and schools also opened for business.
Soldiers and policemen were seen patrolling the state capital to ensure safety of lives and property.
A visit by one of our correspondents to major transport companies in Abakaliki such as Peace Mass Transit and Onitsha South Company showed that activities were going on smoothly.
In a similar vein, the order recorded poor compliance in Enugu as many residents went about their business. Markets, shops, banks, public and private offices opened for business.
Also, commercial transit buses and tricycles, popularly known as Keke NAPEP, plied their usual routes within Enugu metropolis and environs.
However, there was some measure of compliance in Aba, Abia State, where some residents and business owners in the commercial hub of the state stayed away from their shops.
Major markets in Aba, including Ariaria International Market, Cemetery, Shopping Plaza, Ahia Ohuru, Bakassi among others were open, but some traders stayed away from their shops.
Some commercial banks in Aba also provided skeletal services to their customers in Aba.
But according to one of our correspondents who monitored the compliance level, the order failed in Umuahia, the state capital, as residents were seen going about their business, while commercial banks also attended to their customers.
Offices and shops along Okigwe, Azikiwe, Kent, Market, Aba-Owerri roads were however devoid of their usual hustling and bubbling.
Some members of the pro-Biafra group members, who spoke to one of our reporters, thanked the people and residents of Aba who complied with the order.
One of them, Ifeanyi Okafor, said no amount of intimidation from the Federal Government and security agencies would deter them from continuing with “the peaceful agitation for the sovereign state of Biafra.”
In Imo State, where the order also recorded poor compliance, a transporter, who simply gave his name as Simon, said that he had no business with the order because he would not be fed by IPOB.
“Why should I not do my job to feed my family? If I don’t do this, will the IPOB boys feed me?”
While the protest failed in Awka the Anambra State capital, it recorded some success in Onitsha, Nnewi, Ekwulobia and Umunze. Markets, schools, banks and workplaces in Onitsha were shut down.
The situation went awry in Oyigbo Local Government Area of River State where a group of hoodlums suspected to be IPOB members, reportedly kidnapped four drivers and set 15 trucks ablaze.
It was gathered that the trucks were conveying some goods to some parts of the country from Port Harcourt before they were attacked by suspected members of the outlawed pro-Biafra group for defying the order.
Some of the goods destroyed were noodles, fertilisers, bags of flour and rice.
Banks and other businesses along Oyingbo Road immediately shut down to avoid being attacked by the hoodlums.
The Secretary to the National Union of Road Transport Workers, Notore/Indorama Park, Onne Branch, Rivers State, Mahmud Lawal, lamented that two of his trucks were destroyed during the attack.
He estimated the amount of property lost to the attack by the hoodlums at N150m.
“The incident occurred at about 3.00am on Friday. About four drivers, who were in the trucks, were abducted and they are still missing as we speak,” he added.
The Rivers State Police Public Relations Officer, Nnamdi Omoni, confirmed the incident, adding that 19 of the suspects had been arrested.
However, IPOB has denied that its members were responsible for burning the trucks.
Reacting to the development, Spokesperson for the group, Emma Powerful, said the group was a ‘peaceful’ organisation whose only approach was ‘civil disobedience’, rather than violence.
Powerful insinuated that the alleged attack on the trucks might have been carried by security agencies to instigate the breakdown of law and order, in order to justify a clampdown on the group.
In a message he sent to our correspondent through email and WhatsApp, he said, “Arson, wanton destruction and abductions are the staple of northern security operatives.
“It will not be beyond them to seek to instigate a breakdown of law and order to justify their murderous presence in our land.
“IPOB is the largest peaceful mass movement in the world with no need for violent engagement. Our civil disobedience approach is working exceedingly well so why substitute it for wanton violence?”
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Source: Punch News
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