The sit-at-home order by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) in the South East, to commemorate the army invasion of the Afaraukwu, Abia State home of Nnamdi Kanu, on Friday was ignored as residents in Enugu, Anambra, Abia states and other parts of the south east went about their normal businesses.
Both in Enugu, the state capital and Nsukka, the host community of University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), residents shunned IPOB and went about their normal daily businesses.
There was however unusual security presence in the state as a combined team of security personnel, including the police, the Nigerian Air Force and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, patrolled the streets to forestall any breakdown of law and order.
In Enugu metropolis, all the major markets were open for commercial activities, just as government business moved on as usual.
Banks and other business concerns in the capital city were equally open for business.
There was no transport hiccups as commercial bus, taxi cab and tricycle (Keke NAPEP) operators were on the duty.
At the Ogbete Main Market, the biggest market in Enugu metropolis, traders and their customers were seen transacting businesses.
Some of the traders who spoke to newsmen, said nobody would feed their families if they complied with the sit-at-home.
“If IPOB wanted us to comply, they would have given us money to feed our families for the day. It is not that we are not supporting Biafra but we are being realistic,” Anthony Eze, a trader said.
Commercial activities were also going on in other major markets in Enugu metropolis including Old Artisan Market Ogui Road, Kenyetta Market, New Market and Gariki, when newsmen visited.
Government offices including the state and federal secretariats also recorded high turnout of workers yesterday.
Major streets of Enugu including Ogui Road, New Haven, Okpara Avenue, Agbani Road and Zik Avenue, witnessed usual heavy vehicular traffic as residents went about their normal businesses.
In suburban areas such as Abakpa and Emene, traders were initially skeptical to come out in the morning, but when they saw heavy police presence, they opened their shops.
Reports from Nsukka, the UNN host community also indicated that people shunned the IPOB and moved about their normal businesses.
In Abia, however, it was partially observed in Aba where some traders, out of fear of being harassed, stayed away from their shops. Government offices were opened and normal activities went on without molestation.
No IPOB member was seen in the two cities as some anti-riot policemen patrol the two towns in battle ready attire. Despite the fear of possible harassment or attack by either the members of IPOB or some overzealous law enforcement agents, some fuel stations, banks, business premises opened for normal activities in Umuahia.
Some military personnel who had earlier yesterday held what they called “a show of strength” reportedly returned to their bases as there no confrontation or visible breakdown of law and order from any quarter. Those in Aba returned to their base at Ngwa High School, Abayi, Aba, while those in Umuahia went back to the 14 Battalion, Ohafia; some 40 kilometre off Umuahia.
At Nnamdi Kanu, leader of IPOB’s residence at Afaraukwu, Ibeku, Umuahia, no single soldier or policeman was seen there. Two vandalised vehicles (one a salon car and another a Japanese-made jeep) conspicuously lay fallow beside the imposing gate of the one-storey building belonging to his father, HRH Eze I. O. Kanu, where Nnamdi resided before his disappearance in September 2017 when the army invaded his home.
A religious banner hung beside the gate read, “Yahweh Joshua Synagogue” apparent reference to Kanu’s new faith before his disappearance September last year. The Commissioner of Police, Abia State Command, Mr. Anthony Ogbizi on had Thursday warned trouble makers to leave the state or be prepared to be dealt with.
In Anambra State, the call was observed in Nkpor area and Onitsha where the group is believed to have large followership.
Onitsha was completely locked down with one of the largest markets in West Africa, Onitsha Main market shut.
Also, commercial banks, schools and work places were closed down. Even the Asaba, Delta State end of Onitsha bridge head was lifeless.
A drive through the popular Upper Iweka to Onitsha Main market was like driving on a ghost street.
One civil servant who talked from her home said: “We are observing the sit-at home”, but could not offer more explanations.
But it was learnt that most people stayed at home for fear of the unknown.
As for schools, many school authorities advised their pupils to stay home.
However, the situation at Awka and Nnewi were partially different from what obtained in Onitsha.
In Awka, banks were shut, and customers resorted to Automated Teller Machine services; so were some schools, mainly because of the fear of the unknown.
The state secretariat also witnessed skeletal service as many workers abstained from work. Those of them who went to work did so well after 9am when they were sure of their safety.
Also, Awka main market, Eke Awka, was open but majority of shop owners stayed away.
Along the streets, however, businesses and shops were opened.
There was similar experience in Nnewi, the state’s industrial hub. The main Nkwo Nnewi market was open but majority of shop owners stayed away.
Also, some banks opened their branches for business with their security personnel keeping an eagle eyes on the environment.
In all the areas monitored security personnel monitored the situation. They were stationed at street corners while joint security personnel drove round the cities with blaring sirens.
There has been no incident as at the time of sending this report.
In its reaction, the police in Anambra said there was no compliance to the sit-at-home as people, commuters and traders went about their lawful businesses without harassment or intimidation.
In a statement signed by the police public relations officer, Mr. Mohammed Haruna, a Superintendent of Police, it said the “command deployed adequate securities to all nooks and crannies of the state including critical government installations undercover operatives were also deployed to gather intelligence.
“Meanwhile, enhanced visibility patrols and Joint show of Force of all security agencies within the neighborhood and highways are ongoing. All major entries and exit routes in the state are well secured”.
Meanwhile, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) described the exercise a success while has congratulating its supporters.
It, however, said some government officials in some South East states tried to sabotage the exercise and even sponsored negative reports about the exercise.
In a press statement signed by its media and publicity secretary, Emma Powerful, the group however thanked “all traders’ unions, market leaders, artisans, teachers, bankers, road transport workers, clergy, business men and women across the length and breadth of Biafraland for observing a solemn day of remembrance in memory of those that died on September 14, 2017 at Isiama Afaraukwu Umuahia.
“Our collective defiance of the oppressor and their local agents has truly marked IPOB as the authentic mouthpiece of the people”.
They also commended “Ebonyi, Abia, Anambra, Rivers, Delta, Imo, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers States and Biafrans in Benue, Edo and Kogi States for their respect and honour of our fallen martyrs at Afaraukwu and mothers who were humiliated in Owerri recently. We are particularly elated that Yenegoa and parts of Bayelsa demonstrated their Biafra credentials by equally observing the sit-at-home order”.
It said IPOB has once again proven to the entire world that “We Biafrans are in charge of the whole Eastern Region. Today’s sit at home order issued by IPOB and observed by Biafrans is purely indicative to all and sundry that Biafra has come to stay and we salute their courage.”
Similarly, Ebonyi witnessed partial compliance in Abakaliki, the state capital.
Recall that on Thursday the Commissioner of Police in the state Musa Kimo issued a warning to the pro-Biafra group against taking actions capable of breaching public peace and urged the the Ebonyi residents to go about their normal businesses without fear of molestation.
When newsmen visited the popular markets in the state capital, such as the Meat market, Mechanic Village and Building material market shops were opened for businesses and buying and selling was going on.
Banks operating in the state capital were all opened for businesses.
However, streets in Abakaliki were not as busy as they used to be, because it was gathered that many residents of the state stayed back in their homes to avoid the unknown.
Detachments of the Nigeria police force and other security agencies were also on patrol to ensure that there was no breach of peace in the state.