The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), on Monday, August 9, 2021 declared a Sit-At-Home order across all South Eastern states of the federation.
The proscribed group said the lockdown tagged ‘Ghost Monday’ would be witnessed every Monday across the south east region until the trial of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu was over and he is freed by the men of the Department of State Services (DSS).
They further threatened to shut down economic activities in the region throughout the period, adding that schools and market places would be affected.
The secessionists group also warned that those who violate the order would be seriously dealt with.
It will be recalled that Nnamdi Kanu is currently facing trial over charges bordering on treasonable felony brought against him by the federal government over his campaign for the Republic of Biafra.
The IPOB leader was re-arraigned before Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court in Abuja on July 26, 2021, who subsequently adjourned the trial of Nnamdi Kanu till Tuesday, October 21, 2021. The adjournment was as a result of the Federal Government’s failure to produce him in court.
However, some of the south eastern states witnessed a total break down of law and order which resulted to fatalities as well as economic stagnation while the ‘Ghost Monday’ order was partially complied with in other states.
It was reported that about two persons were allegedly killed during a bloody confrontation that happened at the Izuchukwu Junction area in Nnewi, Anambra State.
This was confirmed by the Anambra State Police Public Relation Officer, DSP Tochukwu Ikenga.
According to an eyewitness, the victims were a member of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) and a commercial motorcyclist.
The source claimed that trouble began at about 7.00 am when some IPOB members came out to enforce the sit-at-home order and in the process blocked the major roads in the industrial town.
Some unidentified soldiers came in to clear the items used to block the roads and this led to an altercation between them and the IPOB members; revealing how the two victims were killed as a result of gunshots by the soldiers.
The industrial town of Nnewi was reduced to a ghost town as the people who initially came out for their daily business had to rush back home.
“Some vehicles were also smashed by aggrieved persons over the attack on the civilians by armed soldiers”, the source said.
But on the contrary, the IPOB’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful denied the assertion that the victims were members of the group.
“This is not IPOB or ESN security outfit, it’s those who want to try the resolve of IPOB. We are not enforcing sit-at-home order, people complied by themselves”, Emma said.
In Abia State, business activities in Umuahia metropolis and environs, were crippled. Some residents responded to the sit at home order and business activities grinded to a stand still as major business areas were shut down.
Meanwhile, workers in the state ignored the order, following the state governor, Okezie Ikpeazu’s directive that all civil servants should ensure they report to their place of work, else be sanctioned.
Ikpeazu in a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Governor, Chris Ezem, directed that all civil servants must ensure they are at their duty post and going forward, except those exempted from work based on Covid 19 guidelines.
The governor further directed that the Head of Service, Onyii Wamah ensures compliance with the said directive and sanctions any person that contravenes same appropriately.
The state government also disclosed that it will not compel anyone wishing to ‘sit at home’ for any reason whatsoever not to do so, as citizens have freedom of movement under the extant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It further advised that nobody should compel or enforce any sit at home order from any non-state actor, as doing so does not serve any known interests of the people of the state.
“Compelling our children to stay away from school can only serve the interests of the yet-to-be properly identified persons who may not want to see us make progress as a people.
“Similarly, our traders sitting at home at a time they need to work very hard to sustain their families and create wealth especially in this era of COVID-19 impacted global economy will obviously not serve any development interest of our hardworking citizens.
“All law-abiding citizens and visitors are therefore called upon to go about their normal businesses without fear of molestation as adequate security has been provided to ensure their safety. Parents and guardians are also called upon to ensure that they monitor the activities of their children and wards with a view to ensuring that they do not engage in unlawful activities that will put them in harm’s way”, it stated.
The situation was different in Enugu State. Economic activities were reportedly crippled in the state as markets, banks and various parks were shut down.
Roads were deserted as most busy roads and streets were taken over by youths and were converted to football pitches. No vehicle was seen around the popular Holy Ghost, Old Market, Ogbete market, Kenyatta market, Agbani, Ogui Roads, New Haven, Abakpa and Independence Layout.
Schools scheduled to resume on that day for the third term remained shut, including some private schools which had already resumed for the third term prior to the time. It was also reported that most private hospitals were closed except hospitals with in-patients.
Security operatives were seen patrolling the city to ensure that nobody breached the law. They were stationed at various areas including the three-arm zone, 82 Division of Nigerian Army, various police formations across the state and the Correctional Centre in Enugu.
However, compliance in Imo State was not without some unsavoury incidents, especially in the Mbaise area of the state where some people said to be operatives of the militant arm of IPOB, Eastern Security Network (ESN) reportedly engaged in maiming and killing.
A man was allegedly shot dead at Egberede Nguru while three vehicles were reportedly razed in Enyiogugu all in Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area of the state. The driver of one of the vehicles was also shot on the waist.
A journalist, who was conveying his daughter from Mbaise to Owerri to sit for Mathematics in the ongoing 2021 National Examinations Council (NECO) examinations narrated his experience.
He said, “I didn’t see any vehicle on the road as I drove from Mbaise to Owerri except an army truck I sighted at Emekuku heading probably to the scene of the incident in Mbaise.”
A top legislator in the state who confirmed the closure of shops and markets in Owerri metropolis said his aides he sent to procure some foodstuffs and condiments at the market returned to inform him that markets were shut.
Banks also shut their doors but opened their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) for people to make withdrawals. Customers who needed to make withdrawals via cheques could not do so and had to wait till the next day.
In Orlu, the situation was not different as popular areas in the town such as Banana Junction and Okporo, among others were completely deserted and shops closed except for vehicles of security operatives patrolling the roads.
The same situation played out at the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, Owerri. A source at the airport said only three airplanes touched the tarmac and that the passengers were stranded as there are no taxis or even commuter motorcycles to ferry them to their destinations.
According to Johnson Asiegbu who commented on the development, citizens who chose to remain indoors for fear of attack by miscreants were very smart, while emphasizing that there has been breakdown of law and order in the state which meant that the safety of the people was no longer guaranteed.