*Fear grips Anglican Bishops over IPOB’s order
*Abia over planned protest
*Group supports protest
By Vincent Ujumadu, Anayo Okoli, Nwabueze Okonkwo, Eric Ugbor & Chimaobi Nwaiwu
Awka—THE five-day standing committee of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, ended abruptly in Awka, on Wednesday, following the sit-at-home threat by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
The meeting, attended by 170 Bishops from all the Dioceses in the country, was the highest decision-making gathering of the church and would have ended on Friday.
According to the IPOB threat, all markets, banks and other institutions would be shut and movement restricted in the entire South East geo-political zone.
There were visible signs yesterday in the state of security beef up in various parts of the state.
Primate of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Reverend Nicolas Okoh, who expressed concern over the IPOB order, had earlier pleaded with the group to allow the Bishops leave the state, arguing that the order would adversely affect their departure if carried out.
He said: “IPOB threatened to shut down markets and other institutions and restrict movement in the entire South East. We are not delving into the reasons for their agitation, but we are asking them to wait until we leave Awka on Friday.
“ If they go ahead to carry out that order, we may be trapped in Anambra as the Niger Bridge is the only exit route from Anambra State for most of the Bishops. So, people should help us beg them to allow us to go.”
Though yesterday was the official opening day for the meeting, the Bishops decided to leave the state immediately so as not to be caught in the web of IPOB planned Friday programme.
One of the Bishops from the Northern part of the country said yesterday: “We are human and so we had to put our heads together and that is why we decided to cut short the conference.
“That is the most ideal thing to do in the circumstance. I will leave this evening and most others will do same. Those who cannot make it today (yesterday) will do so early tomorrow (today). There is no need waiting; it doesn’t make sense.”
Following the decision, the Bishops hurriedly issued a statement appealing to the Niger Delta militants to stop the bombing of oil facilities in their region in the interest of the country.
They also appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to convene a roundtable meeting between government and the agitators in order to address their grievances.
Delivering his address at the meeting earlier, the Primate appealed to the Federal Government to disarm the Fulani herdsmen who, he noted, had murdered the peace of the country.
His address read in part: “The Standing Committee wishes to make a passionate appeal to the militants to spare our economy and stop the bombing of oil facilities.
“Shutting down the economy is like pulling down the roofs with all of us inside; nobody will escape the negative impact. We equally call on those who can reach them to join in this appeal for the greater good of all.
“We call on the Federal Government to immediately disarm these people to return Nigeria to a state of peace.”
No going back on protest –IPOB
Meantime, IPOB has called on Biafrans to resist intmidation, harassment and senseless killings against freedom agitators in Nigeria, saying there is no going back on the sit-at-home order.
In a statement signed by its Media and Publicity Secretary Mr Emma Powerful, titled “To set ourselves free” the IPOB Directorate of States, DOS, urged all and sundry irrespective to where they come from to observe the peaceful protest against the continued detaintioin of Mr Kanu.
“As we make our positive statement on Friday, about how we feel in this false union and false marriage of incompatible bed fellows, between 7am and 4pm, by sitting at home, it becomes necessary to remind ourselves why it is important to save and protect the future of our unborn progeny.”
Abia police warn
But as members of Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, prepare for their world wide protest and sit-at-home action tomorrow, in all ‘Biafra Land,’ Abia State Police Command has warned that it would deal decisively with anybody or group that attempts to disrupt economic and social activities in the State.
IPOB said the planned protest and sit-at-home is to push for the release of their detained leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
Already, the Uchenna Madu-led Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, has thrown its weight behind the planned protest.
But the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Leye Oyebade has told them that it is only the government that has the power to declare public holiday, warning that any group that tries to infringe on the law by forcing public holiday on the people would be dealt with decisively, according to the laws.
Group supports protest
Also yesterday, World Alliance Against Terrorism, Violence and Inhuman Treatment, WAATVIT reacted to the proposed sit-at-home order of IPOB,saying that by virtue of the provisions of international convention on people and political rights, endorsed by Nigeria and other countries and by virtue of their membership of the United Nations, UN, every citizen of any country has the right to peacefully assemble for the purposes of agitation for a particular cause.
President of the group, Barrister (Dr.) Anthony Orunkoya therefore stated that IPOB has the right to assembly, warning however that such calls by their leaders for them to assemble and agitate for the release of Kanu must be in consonance with the law of Nigeria.
According to Orunkoya, “the international convention on peoples and political rights of the UN which Nigeria is a signatory to, recognizes peaceful civil disobedience like sit-at-home action, labour or work boycott or labour strike action as a means of agitating for a particular course, hence the IPOB under the convention had called for a sit-at-home action of its members as long as their action does not breach peace, order and security of Nigeria and other Nigerians who may want to go about their lawful duties.”