• No shutdown in Enugu, Imo, Ebony, Umuahia, others
Commercial activities were stalled while traders and commuters were stranded in Onitsha, the commercial hub of Anambra State following the declaration of Sit-at-Home declared by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB.
Though major markets in Onitsha metropolis including the Onitsha Main Market and Bridge Head market normally close shops on October 1, traders in the two markets and other markets like Ogbaru main market, Ochanja and Electromart all stayed away.
While some of the traders engaged in drinking spree in most restaurant shops located in the streets, others either played soccer or carried out sanitation activities within their residences.
The ever busy Upper Iweka was deserted while most motor parks that normally attracted heavy human and vehicular traffic were deserted. Only few drivers of tricycles and commercial buses offerred skeletal services.
Armed security agents in various patrol vehicles were also seen patrolling in groups across various parts of the city to avert any possible breakdown of law and order.
A passenger travelling to Lagos, Ikechukwu Ogbonna, accused the IPOB members of playing on people’s intelligence and cashing on the national public holidays to declare a sit-at-home.
Another respondent, Michael Okeke, told Daily Sun that those who stayed in their homes in Onitsha did it out of fear of being harmed by the pro-Biafra groups.
There was total lockdown of the commercial city of Aba, Abia State, as major markets including Ariaria International market, Eziukwu/Cemetry Road market, Ngwa Road martet and Ekeoha Shopping Centre were shut.
Daily Sun went around the city and found out that most streets were deserted leaving the youth to turn the space into football playgrounds.
However, there was calm as members of IPOB did not engage in any public activity to enforce the restriction order. The police and other security agencies were absent on the streets of the commercial city.
But a few individuals eventually came out from their homes apparently to observe the level of compliance.
A journalist and rights activist, Eusebio Eke, who supported the action said the people were aggrieved at the way the Buhari-led administration was maltreating them as well as the South-south and Middle Belt regions.
He said the level of nepotism pepetrated against Igbo was unprecedented in Nigeria’s history noting that the only way forward was going back to the 1963 Constitution.
Commercial activities in Nnewi were paralysed.
By 7am when our reporter started monitoring the situation in Nnewi and environs, all motor parks including Peace Park, GUO, Izuchukwu, Eastern Mass, Ihiala Mass, Globis and other major parks in the area were sealed, and there were no vehicles in the parks.
Save for a handful of private vehicles and motorcycles, major roads in Nnewi were empty, thereby making people, who intended to make trips stranded.
At about noon when our reporter monitored Bank Road, Nnewi, it was also discovered that no banking activity was going on in any bank and no market in the area, including the popular Agbaedo Market, Motorcycle and Motor Spare Parts Markets were open for businesses.
At about 1pm when Daily Sun visited food markets in Nnewi, including Orie Agbo and Okpunoegbu Markets, they were also sealed. Only few women were seen displaying food items on the roadsides.
When Daily Sun visited Nnewi North Local Government secretariat, it was observed that the usual ceremonies characterising independence anniversaries were not observed as school children and government functionaries were not in sight.
There was also no sight of security personnel on any road monitored by Daily Sun within Nnewi and environs.
When contacted, Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment in Anambra, Mr. C-Don Adinuba, said government directed that the usual activities characterising independence anniversary would not hold this year in Anambra due to COVID-19 pandemic.
“The government of Anambra State had directed Ndi Anambra that this year’s independence day celebrations would be low key. The worst is not yet over. Therefore, the usual match parades and other ceremonies at designated locations in Awka, and the various local government fields in Anambra State will not hold,” he said.
He, however, maintained silence on why parks and markets were also closed.
But the sit-at-home order was not observed in Umuahia, Abia State and country home of the pro-Biafra’s leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
Residents defied the order as markets and other business outlets opened for business as usual even as human and vehicular movements were not restricted.
The popular Isi Gate and other adjourning markets in and around Umuahia opened for business just as eateries and other business outlets.
Although banks in Umuahia, public and private schools which reopened on Monday after the COVID-19 lockdown were closed, it was ostensibly in observance of the Federal Government Independence anniversary holiday.
A visit to the popular Aba Road, Umuahia showed it was business as usual as commercial bus drivers and keke operators were seen taking passengers to and fro Ubakala junction in Umuahia South Local Government. The scenario was the same in other major entries into Umuahia such as Bende and Uzuakoli Roads.
When our reporter inquired from one of the residents who gave his nameas Ogbonnaya why the IPOB sit-at-home order was not observed in Umuahia, he said: “Umuahia people have a peculiar way they take things, they are not coerced into what they don’t want to do and cannot engage in things because others are doing them”.
Abia government had on Wednesday, in a move seen in some quarters as attempt to neutralise the IPOB sit-at-home order announced that as part of activities marking the independence day celebration and in appreciation of the cooperation of the market community with Abia government in the fight against COVID-19, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu had approved the distribution of COVID-19 stimulus package for traders in selected markets.
The major markets the stimulus packages were meant to cover included the Orie-ugba, Ubani and Ohiya Spare parts all in Umuahia; and Ariaria, Ekeoha Shopping Center and Ahia Ohuru Markets in Aba.
Leaders of the affected market unions were to designate an appropriate assembly points for the distribution which was to commence by 9am, yesterday.
The action failed in Ebonyi as residents went about their normal activities unhindered.
IPOP spokesperson, Emma Powerful, had in a statement said the pro-Biafra group would monitor the exercise and ensure compliance in all states in the South East and all other Biafra territories.
Our correspondent who moved round the streets of Abakaliki observed that residents went about their normal daily activities without molestation, either by security agents or members of the pro Biafra group.
As early as 7am, motorcycle operators and the tricycle operators had already hit the streets while market traders were seen making their way to the markets.
Government had earlier urged residents to ignore the IPOB order and to go about their businesses describing the group as a faceless organization.
Commissioner for Internal Security and Border Peace, Stanley Okoro-Emegha, while dismissing the IPOB order warned the group against breach of public peace, stating that government would deal decisively with anyone who engaged in disruption of public peace.
In Enugu State economic activities were in full gear in markets such as Abakpa, Ogbete and Kenyetta.
There was also heavy vehicular movement in virtually all major roads in the metropolis as security agencies were seen patrolling the state capital to ensure there was no breakdown of law and order.
Some residents told Daily Sun that the economic condition of the country should be blamed for their decision to ignore the order.
Chima Asogwa said there was no way he could sit at home when his six children had nothing to eat. He said he could only obey the order if there was a mechanism which will take care of his family.
Another resident, a commercial bus driver, Mr Alphonsus Ugwu, said he was tired of the frequent sit-at-home calls by IPOB. He advised the group to come up with another form of protest which will not affect people’s income.
Though an IPOB member, Nduka Ogbuefi said he opened his barber’s saloon because he noticed that people were not complying with the order.
“I did not plan to open my chop today. I just came out to observe only to see that all my neighbours were open for business. There is nothing my absence will change so I decided to open.
“If there is another thing they want us to be doing which will not affect our pockets, it will be welcomed by everyone. We have families that expects us to come back home with something.
Similarly, residents of Imo State completely disregarded the directive as they went about their normal business. Markets, shops and other business premises including the Tetlow Computer village and the Alaba International Market were opened.