From Okey Sampson, Umuahia, Obinna Odogwu, Awka, Aloysius Attah, Onitsha and David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
The planned sit-at-home ordered by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) scheduled to commence today has split the pro-Biafra community.
The pro-Biafra group had penultimate week, in solidarity with its detained leader, Nnamdi Kanu, ordered a sit-at-home that would be observed every Monday throughout Igboland, until his trial would end.
While the organisation’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, said there was no going back on it, a family member of the embattled leader of the group, Kanunta Kanu, said the exercise has been suspended due to ongoing National Examination Council (NECO) examination for junior secondary schools.
But Powerful, in a statement yesterday, said Kanu’s brother who issued the statement is not IPOB’s spokesman and therefore should be ignored.
“Kanu brother is not IPOB spokesperson and anybody who listens to that deceptive statement and obligated to such statement by coming out tomorrow (today) will get it hot.”
Powerful reiterated the directive is sacrosanct and will hold as scheduled from 6am to 6pm.
“The entire Biafraland will be locked down every Monday from 6am to 6pm beginning from today until our leader, Kanu, who was abducted in Kenya and brought back to Nigeria and locked up in Department of State Services (DSS) dungeon in clear violation of international laws, is freed.
“Consequently, there will be no movement throughout Biafra land on Mondays until our leader who is suffering for our freedom is released. This protest is peaceful but firm. Everybody is advised to stay indoors in total compliance,” he said.
But a statement by IPOB’s leader’s younger brother said a new date for the commencement of the sit-at-home order would be announced later.
Kanunta said having realised the academic deprivation the already marginalised Biafra students who entered for this year’s NECO would suffer, it decided to suspend the sit-at-home order to a later date, to allow the students take their examinations. He equally made it clear that allowing the sit-at-home to go ahead as earlier announced, in the face of the NECO examination, would amount to assisting enemies of Biafra to inflict more injuries on its children.
This came as Anambra and Abia governments warned workers, especially the civil servants and residents not to obey the sit-at-home directive.
Anambra Head of Service, Harry Udu, in a statement, yesterday, made it clear that any worker who failed to be on duty would face severe sanctions, including seizure of August salary and directed commissioners and permanent secretaries of various ministries to monitor compliance and report same accordingly.
“The government of Anambra State has directed that all workers in the state must attend to their duties today as failure to do so will result in severe sanctions, including loss of salary for August.
“All commissioners and permanent secretaries are to monitor and report compliance. Give this information the widest publicity in your establishment,” the government said in the statement.
Similarly, Abia government asked residents to disregard the IPOB order.
The government’s directive contained in a statement issued in Umuahia by Commissioner for Information, Okiyi Kalu, said adequate security had been provided to ensure safety of lives and property in all parts of the state.
He said it made no economic sense to order traders to sit at home, while they are struggling to fend for their families under COVID-19 and the attendant harsh economy.
He further warned that compelling the children to stay away from schools would be counter-productive and capable of retarding their progress academically.
The commissioner, however, noted that it would not compel anyone wishing to sit-at-home for any reason whatsoever not to do so.
“As citizens have freedom of movement under the extant constitution, we wish to strongly advice that nobody should also compel or enforce any sit-at-home order from any non-state actor. Doing so will not serve any known interest of the people of the state.”
An Igbo group, Igbo Youth Freedom, (IYF) and the – Authorities of Drivers Welfare Association (DWA) in Anambra State have disassociated themselves from the IPOB order.
In two separate statements in Onitsha, yesterday, the two groups enjoined all residents of the South East to discountenance the order and go about their businesses.
According to the leader of IYF, Uche Okereke, “the sit-at-home order is a draconian order that devalued the economic interest of the Igbo who are managing to survive the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic after the severe first and second waves of the killer disease.”
Patron of DWA, Obinna Anisiobi, described the exercise by IPOB as “futile and counter-productive.”