From Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri, Okey Sampson, Umuahia, George Onyejiuwa, Owerri, Obinna Odogwu, Awka, Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
Gunmen suspected to be members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), yesterday, disrupted the ongoing West African Examinations Council (WAEC) at the Comprehensive Secondary School Nkume community, Njaba Local Governmet area of the state.
A video had emerged on social media showing how IPOB enforcers chased students and invigilators participating in the ongoing Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE) out of examination halls before setting the roof of the hall on fire.
The group had insisted on its earlier sit-at-home directive on Mondays in Imo despite all important English language exams scheduled for the same day.
The video also showed how some motorcycles allegedly belonging to some students were set ablaze in the process.
“Gunmen came to the school and chased out students this morning. They started shooting repeatedly and insisted that no examination would be allowed to go on. They destroyed some motorcycles and shot continuously until the students and teachers ran away.”
Police spokesperson for the state, Michael Abattam, confirmed the invasion of the school to journalists.
•Abia warns hoodlums to desist from causing chaos
Meanwhile, Abia government has warned hoodlums who have arrogated to themselves the power to enforce the order to desist from their action, saying it would no longer sit idly and watch miscreants cause chaos in the state.
Daily Sun observed that there was total observance to the sit-at-home order in Aba. Banks, public institutions and schools were closed and there were no vehicular movements. Though markets were opened following government’s directive, there were, however, no traders or buyers as the people refused to venture outside for fear of being molested.
In Umuahia, the state capital, the compliance was partial as filling stations opened but banks were shut.
Commissioner for Information, John Okiyi-Kalu, in a statement, however, said government would not allow any individual or group instil fear in people and prevent students from writing examinations.
The statement titled: “WASCE: We must not jeopardise our children’s future” read: “Our attention has been drawn to the lingering sit-at-home reportedly endorsed and illegally enforced by a group of hoodlums hiding under the identity of agitators in the South East region to cause chaos in the state. We wish to state that it is unacceptable to allow any individual or group to instil fear in our people to the extent of negatively impacting the education of our innocent school children who are billed to write the compulsory English examination of the West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE) on Monday, September 13 and Tuesday, September 14, and on the rights of other law abiding citizens.
“While we do not begrudge any citizen the right to sit-at-home or go about their normal duties, as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others, we cannot afford to sit idly and watch the future of our children jeopardised and the economic well-being of our people further wrecked over a matter we believe can be resolved judicially or through political negotiations. We cannot continue to cut our nose to spite our face.”
The commissioner advised parents to ensure their children are at their examination centres for their papers while teachers and examination supervisors are to ensure the protection of children before, during and after examinations.
It equally encouraged other citizens of the state to go about their normal duties without fear of molestation, promising that necessary measures had been put in place to protect them.
It also warned leaders of markets and transport unions against the shutting down of businesses by their members on Mondays, unless otherwise advised by government.
“Any market that is closed or transport union that fails to operate will be closed and disbanded, respectively, by government till further notice. As a responsible government, we will continue to explore all avenues to ensure peaceful resolution of the issues that have led to the agitations by the concerned non-state actors, but we will not shirk our responsibility to the majority of our people who are also suffering silently out of no fault of theirs.”
Okiyi-Kalu urged security agencies in the state to fully deploy to all flash points on Mondays and maintain regular patrols to ensure the safety and protection of law abiding citizens and visitors from any form of molestation.
•Owerri residents lament, blames govs
Residents of Owerri, the Imo state capital, yesterday, lamented the sit-at-home order even as they blamed the situation on the insensitivity of South East governors and political leaders who they accuse of doing nothing to secure the release of IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, from detention.
Daily Sun went round Owerri yesterday and observed that majority of the people complied with the sit-at-home order as traders locked their shops and commercial bus operators stayed off the roads.
Okoro Ibe, resident of World Bank Road, said the sit-at-home order had become counter-productive to people of the state and that it was important that IPOB review its strategy in fighting its cause.
Another trader at Douglas Road who simply identified himself as Benedict, said people should not be forced to stay at home every Monday.
“The South East governors should be blamed for this situation.”
Aloy Nnaji, commercial bus driver, appealed to leaders of IPOB to consider the sufferings of the people and enforce the order only on days Nnamdi Kanu is taken to court.
•Anambra monitors resumption of businesses
Anambra Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, yesterday, monitored resumption of business activities in Awak, the state capital, following his earlier order to banks, markets and other businesses enterprises to open to the public.
Obiano, who led government officials and members of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) visited some banks and the popular Eke Awka market to be sure they complied with his earlier directive to open.
He also assured them of government’s readiness to protect them against attacks from non-state actors. He said security agencies were on red alert to respond to security issues that might arise in the state.
•Residents desert Enugu roads
Igbo have been urged to take notice of the danger the exercise was causing the economy of the region.
Gen. Joseph Okoloagu (retd), who spoke in Enugu, urged the people to talk to themselves to realise the destruction they were bringing on themselves complying with the IPOB order.
Yesterday’s sit-at-home in Enugu State followed the usual pattern as it crippled both government and private businesses with all the roads and streets virtually empty.
Okoloagu, member of the Board of Trustees of the All Progressives Congress (APC) told newsmen that it was unreasonable for the entire region to suffer because some people do not like President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Today is Monday, you go to the market you can’t buy anything; you can’t go anywhere because you don’t like Buhari. Buhari will come and go, Igboland, Enugu State, will remain. Then talk to yourselves, because our economy is suffering. I make bold to say that this sit-at-home is just aimed at an individual who does not even know and who may not even have any direct influence in what you perceive is the wrong being done to you because he has lieutenants.”
On why the government was allegedly treating Boko Haram with kid-gloves and IPOB with iron hand, Okoloagu said: “I don’t have the intelligence they have. In the first place, lets tell ourselves the home truth, why did this IPOB thing become very violent this time? Uwazuruike was first to carry Biafra. Boko Haram, there is no kid-glove treatment, the only part of departure as an individual is that it is long overdue for this government to have declared killer herdsmen terrorists, that’s the only argument you will make. As far as I am concerned, killer herdsmen are terrorists, unknown gunmen in the South East are terrorists. So, to that extent, killer herdsmen should be declared terrorists because not all herdsmen are terrorists.”
•Motorists in Abia groan over hike in fuel pump price
Motorists in Abia State are groaning over the scarcity and hike in fuel pump price since last weekend. No official reason has been given it.
The hike in fuel pump price has correspondingly resulted in residents being stranded as commercial vehicle and tricycle operators have astronomically increased transport fares resulting in commuters being stranded.
The unannounced fuel price increase has left commuters and motorists in Aba, the commercial city of Abia State shocked and stranded.
Investigations revealed that fuel dealers in major filling stations in the two cities are selling fuel at different prices ranging from N250 to N300 per litre from the usual price of N165.
The hike in fuel pump price has led to increase in transport fares across the state.