From Magnus Eze, Enugu, Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri, Aloysius Attah, Onitsha, Chijioke Agwu, Abakaliki and Okey Sampson, Aba
Major cities and towns in the South-East were devoid of activities yesterday, as the people obeyed the sit-at-home order handed down by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Major cities like Enugu, Owerri, Abia, Onitsha, Abakaliki and others were like ghost towns, as movement of people were restricted. As residents of Enugu stayed indoors following threats of violent enforcement of the sit-at-home order by IPOB, banks, institutions and some private businesses also downed the Nigerian flag in their premises.
Saturday Sun took a ride round the Enugu metropolis and discovered that all the banks at Ogui Road, New Haven, Rangers Avenue and Presidential Road, both in the Independence Layout, lowered the national flag.
There were no flags at the Enugu State High Court Complex and the premises of Court of Appeal Enugu Division, though it could not be confirmed whether they were pulled in observance of the IPOB order.
At The Base, a popular events centre close to the Court of Appeal, flags of some foreign countries were in place while the Nigerian was downed. The case was the same in several of the hotels in Independence Layout, Enugu. In Onitsha, even street markets failed to open yesterday while school children that normally attended Independence celebrations at their respective local government headquarters all stayed at home.
Tricycle operators , bus drivers and traders continued to stay at home as some engaged in drinking spree while other played street football in the morning hours. An unusual traffic gridlock hit various parts of Onitsha on Thursday evening as commuters hurriedly tried to get to their various destinations ahead of yesterday ordered sit-at-home.
Motorists were stuck on the road till the wee hours of yesterday morning along Bridge head axis, Ogidi building Materials/Bakery market along the Onitsha-Ogbunike-Awka highway. A respondent, Chikamso Okoli trading at Old Motor Spare Parts Market, (Mgbuke) Obosi told Saturday Sun that it was better to stay alive and bear the brunt of hardship and loss of money occasioned by the sit-at-home than risk their wrath and die. Also, Ebonyi State was yesterday shut down as banks, markets and parks in the state were totally closed. Banks in the state also completely removed all Nigeria flags within their premises as directed by IPOB. Our correspondent who moved round the city of Abakaliki observed that all banks in the town not only shut down but also removed Nigeria flags within their premises.
The streets of Abakaliki were all totally deserted as people stayed at home in obedience to the IPOB’s directive.
However , some youths from the Akubaraoha Youth Assembly (AYA) marched round the streets of Abakaliki early Monday morning to celebrate Ebonyi at 25, and to celebrate the achievements of Governor David Umahi. The Ebonyi State Executive Council members also converged on the Executive Council Chambers, Old Government House in Abakaliki and discussed the progress and development recorded in the state under Umahi’s administration.
Imo State residents also stayed at home yesterday observing the sit-at-home order..
All major economic activities were completely grounded, as markets, shops and motor parks remained closed. Even artisans did not go out as usual for their daily activities. There were no vehicular movements in all the roads in the state. Many fuel stations were under lock and key. A resident who spoke to our correspondent on why he preferred to stay indoors instead of enjoying the October 1 public holidays said: “It is better for me to remain indoors than die like a chicken. You know for yourself how people lose their lives during this period, so for me its resting day.”
A commercial vehicle operator added: “I don’t want any story of gunmen burning my vehicle. This is the only thing I’ve got to feed my family,” he said.
Meanwhile, gunmen enforcing the sit-at-home order directed by the IPOB set ablaze two vehicles at Obama, Nguru and Ahiara junction, at Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State. The gunmen were said to have stopped the two vehicles, a commercial bus loaded with passengers and a truck at Obama and Ahiara junction respectively, at about 8 am, ordering the passengers of the bus to alight before setting it ablaze.
The truck driver was also said to have been lucky as he was said to have escaped before the vehicle could burst into flames.
In Abia State, the streets were deserted in Aba and Umuahia as there were no human or vehicular movements. Banks and schools were closed as the Federal Government had already declared yesterday public holiday in commemoration of the country’s 61st Independence anniversary. However, markets and shops in the two cities which normally open for business on public holidays were all closed out of the fear of the unknown. Nigerian flags hoisted in banks in the state were yesterday pulled down in obedience to the order of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
However, Nigeria flags in other public institutions in the state were not removed as they were seen flying at full mast when the reporter visited some of the buildings. The pro Biafra group had earlier in the week, in a statement signed by its media and publicity secretary, Emma Powerful ordered that as from October I, Nigeria flags would no longer be allowed to flag in any public building in the South East, warning of dire consequences in contravention of the order.
The statement specifically warned banks to remove the flags by themselves, failure which the IPOB would be forced to remove them in “our own way”. In Umuahia the state capital, flags hoisted on banks on Bank Road, Umuwaya and other places had disappeared by the time Saturday Sun visited the areas.
Reports from the commercial city of Aba, presented the same scenario.