May 30, 2019

Sit-at-home: Security agencies patrol Umuahia as IPOB talks tough

IPOB, Police

Some members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, making brisk appearance along some streets in Onitsha, Anambra State,. FILE

By Clifford Ndujihe, Anayo Okoli, Ugochukwu Alaribe & Chinonso Alozie

UMUAHIA—AHEAD of today’s sit-at-home order by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and other pro-Biafra groups, security operatives have, in the past one week, been engaged in Operation Show-of-Force with a combined force of Military, Naval and Police personnel patrolling the major streets of Umuahia and environs.

IPOB, Police

Some members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB

It is believed that Umuahia is the headquarters of IPOB, being the native home of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu.

Though the security operatives have not harassed anybody, they said the operation was to alert the people and warn pro-Biafra groups not to cause any trouble.

There have also been warnings from Police authorities to the group to desist from making such calls for sit-at-home as it had no rights to do so.

However, IPOB, in a statement by its spokeman, Emma Powerful, insisted on going ahead with the sit-at-home programme, saying “the Army, Police and their collaborators within and without, lie,  misinform, arrest, torture and clamp people into illegal detention. A  corrupt and complicit judiciary only serves to strengthen our resolve to restore Biafra and not diminish it.

“Biafraland is under siege, with hundreds kidnapped on a daily basis by an army that capitulated in front of Boko Haram and are actively supporting the ethnocentric campaign of genocide against the Middle Belt.

“We have resolved to make every sacrifice needed to ensure Biafra is liberated. Therefore, we are prepared for this wave of onslaught against IPOB.

“But we are consoled by the fact that the whole world is taking stock of what IPOB is being forced to endure because a time will come when the hunter will become the hunted.

“Biafra Remembrance Day celebration is on Thursday, May 30 (today) and Biafrans must not come out on that day. It will serve as a reminder to the overlords that we, Biafrans are united in our quest to be free from the iniquitous bondage called Nigeria.

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“IPOB is a disciplined movement that cannot abdicate its obligation to the dead.

“No matter how many troops they deploy on our streets or how many people they kill or arrest, Biafraland will be locked down on that fateful day.

“It is better for the Police and other security agencies to stay indoors and respect that day or the spirit of those that died in the quest for Biafra will destroy them.

“May 30 is a holy day and Biafraland will be on lockdown to honour those starved to death: children and the fallen heroes and heroines who died during the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War of 1967 to 1970.

‘Show of force can’t stop us—MASSOB

In the same vein, the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, yesterday, insisted that the sit-at-home order today cannot be stopped by the security agencies.

The leader of MASSOB, Uchenna Madu, spoke in Owerri, adding that the day was set aside to honour  Biafra fallen heroes.

According to Madu, in the process of the sit-at-home, they would observe a non-violent procedure.

He said: “The leadership of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, has insisted and vowed that tomorrow’s (today) Biafra Day anniversary celebration must hold irrespective of the threats by security agents.

“No amount of intimidating patrols and show of force will ever deter MASSOB and other pro-Biafra groups from honouring our heroes and friends of Biafra tomorrow (today).

“MASSOB wishes to assure the people of Biafra that there will be no public processions, rally or forceful enforcement on the citizens to adhere or obey our directives involuntarily.”

On the strategies adopted for the sit-at-home order, he said: “As we preach non-violence, we shall maintain the principal of non-violence in all of our approach towards Biafra’s actualisation and restoration.

“As May 30 anniversary celebration is sacrosanct, MASSOB acknowledges the conscious awareness and synergies among the pro-Biafra groups and other organisations in Biafraland towards the preparations and enthusiastic spirit in readiness for the celebration of Biafra declaration anniversary.”

‘It should be non-violent’

Meanwhile, there  were varied opinions from residents of Umuahia on the need or otherwise for the sit-at-home.

Second Republic politician and a member of Ime-Obi (inner caucus) of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Guy Ikokwu, has urged Igbo to honour millions of their kith and kin, who died during the Civil War by observing the sit-at-home directive.

He said businessmen and women in the South-East zone and Igbo-speaking areas of the country should observe the day by sitting at home.

However, he cautioned Igbo in other states, who are not self-employed to obey the decisions of the states by going to work and doing their lawful duties.

For the Methodist Bishop of Umuahia Diocese, Dr. Raphael Opoko: “I am not calling for secession, but IPOB has the right to agitate; Fulani, Niger Delta people and others are all agitating. If there is justice, there will be no agitation.

“I still maintain that the best thing is to restructure and allow the various regions to develop their potentials.”

For Elekwechi Ubani, an Umuahia-based trader, “I personally support the sit-at-home, but it should be optional because some of us are civil servants. So you cannot stop them from going to work.

“Yes, we need to honour our heroes and heroines. Some of us may do it through prayers wherever we are; it must not be through sit-at-home.”