Okey Sampson, Umuahia
Normalcy is gradually returning to Aba and Umuahia in Abia State where the #EndSARS protests turned violent, leading to the destruction and looting of banks and other public and private property.
The resulting chaos led to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu imposing a curfew on the two cities to contain the mob violence.
In the commercial hub of Aba and Umuahia, the State capital, shops were seen opened for businesses as commercial vehicle operators were seen on roads, though they were providing minimal services.
The State Government had in response to the peace that is gradually returning to the state, announced the relaxing of the curfew Governor Ikpeazu imposed on the cities of Aba and Umuahia.
A press release by the Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi-Kalu, said, after due review and consideration of the current security situation in the State, and the readiness of security agencies to effectively contain any act of criminality by any person or group, ‘Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has directed that the prevailing curfew as imposed on Aba and Umuahia be relaxed to now from 8 am to 5 pm from Sunday (yesterday).’
The release directed all markets in the affected cities to reopen during the day while market committees and security teams mobilise adequate security to watch over the markets at night and during the day.
‘Government wishes to direct all commercial tricycle operators to henceforth vacate the roads during the curfew time of 5 pm – 8 am daily to avoid being caught in the evil plans of armed hoodlums who want to hide under the noble cause of genuine #EndSARS protests to perpetuate acts of brigandage, arson, armed robbery and other violent crimes.
‘Tricycle operators that fail to heed this directive will have themselves to blame as security agents have been authorized to impound and detain erring operators with their tricycles till the current curfew regime is lifted.’
When our reporter went round the cities, there was the presence of military/police teams at strategic places while others were seen patrolling major streets.
Despite the gradual return of normalcy and the relaxing of the curfew, the State Government has directed that public and private schools which were originally to resume today, would remain closed till further notice.
Meanwhile, Abia State Government said it has received reports that stranger elements are moving into the State en masse with possible nefarious intentions and directed hotel proprietors and managers to properly scrutinise new guests and report suspicious persons to security agents for appropriate review.
Government equally said it received reports that some yet to be identified enemies of the Info people were planning to unleash mayhem and burn down some major markets in the State and possibly provoke a total breakdown of law and order.
The State Government directed all market committees and security teams to mobilise immediately and protect the markets.