The sit-at-home directive issued to residents of the south-east by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) to honour those who lost their lives in the group's liberation struggle recorded partial compliance in some areas while it was disregarded in other places yesterday.
In Enugu yesterday, most of the residents went about their lawful duties.Though there was an initial lull in activities in the early hours of the day as the residents stayed away apparently for fear of being attacked by those behind the sit-at-home order, activities picked up as from 7:00 a.m.
In defiance of the directive, banks, markets, public and private schools in the state opened for activities. Commercial vehicle operators were everywhere conveying commuters to their destinations.At the state secretariat, workers turned out for work. The private schools, whose owners declared a mid-term break for their students, were closed but public schools, particularly secondary and higher institutions which are conducting exams for their students, were not.
But at some markets located within the state capital, though they were open by 8:00 a.m., there were neither traders nor buyers. The situation was the same at the Old Park, which serves as a loading point for most commercial bus operators.One of the bus drivers told The Guardian that they decided not to load passengers "until we ascertain that our route is safe. I do Enugu to Abakaliki but I need to know that Abakaliki is peaceful before I move."
In Abia State, there was total compliance with the order at Aba while it was partial in Umuahia, the state capital. In Aba, markets, schools, banks and other public activities were grounded, leaving the streets empty while at Umuahia, schools, banks and other businesses operated. The residents moved freely along the streets as at 3:00 p.m .when this report was filed.
The non-compliance in Umuahia might be due to patrols by security agents in long convoys, blaring sirens that warned that any disruption of activities by IPOB or its supporters would be countered with arrests and prosecution.One Mrs. Steph Ugele, a blogger, told The Guardian that all her children attended their different schools yesterday.
In Imo State, private and public primary and secondary schools closed shop yesterday. Parents and guardians who took their children and wards to their schools brought them back home based on the advice of their head teachers that the pupils should be kept away from trouble that could be caused by the agitators.
A parent who fielded questions from The Guardian, said: " I took my children to their private school, Saphire True Vine, MCC Road, Owerri, but I was advised by the teacher in charge to take them back. I quickly carried them back. It was the same thing to others."
But motorists, commuters and traders carried on with their activities. Taxi drivers, commercial vehicles, and workers were at their duty posts. Security personnel (police and para-military agencies) were on patrol in different areas of the state.
Residents of Ebonyi State went about their normal daily activities unharmed.Though there was the presence of heavily armed police personnel in some strategic locations initially, they later disappeared when it was clear that the people were going about their normal businesses undisturbed.
Banks, schools, markets, government offices, motor parks as well as other private institutions were all in full operation. At the busy Water Works Road, Ogoja Road, Afikpo Road, Gunning Street and Afikpo Street, there was heavy traffic caused by those going to their work and business places.
A worker at one of the major motor parks told The Guardian that the people were tired of the IPOB's way of agitation, noting that "sitting at home is not the best option."But Onitsha, the commercial hub of Anambra State, and its environs,
were yesterday shut down in compliance with the directive to remain indoor .Business activities were paralysed in Onitsha, Obosi, Okpoko, Ogidi, Awada, Nkpor, Nsugbe and Odekpe.
It was observed that as early as 7:00 a.m. yesterday, trucks, buses and pick-up vans loaded with security operatives, including, police, military and civil defence corps, converged on Tarzan Junction Nkpor. The security men were later positioned strategically to check-mate activities of IPOB members who might want to frustrate the freedom of movement by the residents.
The ascension church mass held yesterday by Christians, especially the
Catholics, increased the number of those who were indoors as on return from the church service, many of them stayed indoors until today.
The markets in Onitsha, Oseokwodu, Bridgehead, Ochanja, Marine, Ogbaru, Ogidi, Ogboafele, Ugwuagba and Nkpor,
were shut down. Banks, offices, industries and mechanic workshops were not left out as the major roads in Oguta, Modebe and other places were deserted.
The ever-busy Ogbonmanu and Nkpor junctions, including the General Post Office situated along the old market road and the popular Upper Iweka axis were also deserted.The newspapers stands at Nkpor junction, old market road and Atani/
Onitsha junction were filled with Biafra agitators who trooped out to read the latest on the swearing in of President Muhammadu Buhari and the governors the previous day.
An Onitsha-based businessman, Chidi Innocent said: "This year's IPOB sit-at-home is worse than that of last year. Business is completely paralysed, it is a complete compliance by the residents. No vehicular movement and shops and offices closed down."
Also reacting, Mr John Peters, a civil servant added: "I did not know that people will take the sit-at-home order seriously, that means there is still problem in this country and Mr President should listen to the demands, especially on the issue of restructuring before it is too late."
Besides, addressing a press conference on an occasion to mark the 52nd anniversary of Biafra declaration by Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, a coalition of pro-Biafra groups stated that the struggle for the restoration of Biafra was in response to alleged continued marginalisation, deprivation and "genocide" against Biafrans who were defeated during the independence war in 1970.
Reading a prepared speech on behalf of the 14 members of the coalition, the leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Uchenna Madu, said that since the 1970 "genocide", no Nigerian leader had dared to address the deprivation the people suffered during the period.
According to him, the 14 pro-Biafra groups, including Eastern Peoples Congress (EPC), Igbo Cultural and Restoration Initiative (IYCRI) and Belie Human Rights have resolved to boycott the eating of cow meat.
"All Biafrans are advised to boycott cow meat consumption throughout Biafran territories and homes. All social organisations, community welfare associations, churches and all agitating groups are requested to encourage their members to observe the boycott with immediate effect," Madu said.He said the declaration of Biafra on May 30th 1967 was borne out of the need for survival, alleging that previous administrations in the country designed plans for "total extermination of the Biafra people."