•As police assure intervention
•Economic activities resuming in Owerri, Umuahia, Abakaliki
By Vincent Ujumadu, Dennis Agbo, Chimaobi Nwaiwu, Chinedu Adonu, Ugochukwu Alaribe, Ikechukwu Odu, Steve Oko & Emmanuel Iheaka
Businesses and other activities remained shut in the South East yesterday in the continued obedience to the suspended sit-at-home order at the instance of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
Although there was semblance of activities in Owerri, Abakaliki and Umuahia, virtually all towns and cities across the South East were grounded.
Business owners who expressed their desire to open their businesses however lamented the absence of security agents to provide security for them against enforcers of the order.
In Onitsha and Nnewi, residents blasted government and security agents for failing when most needed.
Even with the threat by Anambra State government to sanction markets, park owners, banks and other stakeholders who refused to go back to business, residents chose to stay away from the roads and streets in the two business communities in the state. Markets were closed. Streets were deserted, schools were shut, banks and other businesses were under lock and key.
Leaders of traders accused the Anambra State government of not providing security to ensure the safety of the traders in the markets. There was no presence of the usual military and police checkpoints in all parts of Anambra State yesterday.
From Awka to Nnewi; to Onitsha, there was no single security operative. Even the soldiers that usually cause traffic beside the Governor’s Lodge in Awka and those close to Nnamdi Azikiwe University gate were nowhere to be seen.
Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, in the state, Mr. Tochukwu Ikenga could not give reasons for the absence of security operatives on the roads, but said that the police was determined to provide security in every part of the state.
According to one of the business owners, “We have 302 Artillery Regiment; we have Naval Outpost and Police Area Commands and Divisional Police Stations in Onitsha and Nnewi, yet, you cannot see a single Police officer, Army officer or Naval officer on any road or street parading in their vehicles to reassure people of their safety and you want them to come out?
“If Police, Army, Navy and other security agents are afraid to come out on the streets and roads in Anambra State, is it civilians like me without gun that will be courageous to come out.? We see Police, Army, Navy and other security agencies in the past in motor cades parading the roads and streets in what they call ‘show of force’ and now that it is the appropriate time to show the force, they are no where to be found.
“What is happening in the South East is failure of government. They have shown us that they are not in control. This time, they should not blame the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, for the continued observation of sit at-home in South East. The blame should go to South East governors who have done nothing as a group and as individuals to secure the people.
“This is the time the people expected them to come up with their Ebubeagu security outfit and the Police, Army, Navy that have been mounting checkpoints collecting money from motorists and delaying their movements to come out and secure the environment for people but they are hiding.
“From tomorrow being Tuesday, they will come out from their hiding stations and barracks to the roads to collect money from Tuesday to Sunday and delay people’s movement, but today they are nowhere to be found. Is it not a shameful situation?”
Lamenting the effect of the continued sit-at-home despite its suspension by IPOB, a Senior lecturer in the department of political science, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Prof Obasi Igwe said that it was unfortunate that it’s the same Igbo that are seeking for freedom that are suffering and losing by the sit-at-home.
“Who are being killed, who are living in fear, dying of starvation, hunger and malnutrition, who are being impoverished and weakened? You’re seeking attention: who’s paying attention; best ‘attention’ they’re just laughing at the Igbo as suicidal fools in a world of calculations and hard choices. Others are doing such calculations; what calculations are the Igbo doing?
“Some of us lowly and less intelligent men are thinking of how to save the Igbo and others, not how to suffer and slaughter them. A movement unable to coalesce with any other group should start thinking twice about itself. The Fulani never do anything except by way of using others. Pre-British Aro never fought a single war but they schemed, led and won in every war and dominated almost the whole south. So, Igbo youths cannot say they have no Igbo to learn from,” Igwe wrote in a public statement on Monday.
In Aba, the roads were deserted as motorists including the ubiquitous keke operators were not seen. The gates of markets were open while all the banks shut their doors. Schools in the city had earlier sent their students home, except those taking the West African Senior School Certificate Examination, WASSCE.
A cross section of residents told Vanguard that they were afraid of resuming their businesses because of fear of attack by hoodlums who may loot their shops.
A trader at the Ariaria International Market, Mr. Michael Ndukwe , urged the government to provide security men to patrol the markets, banks, motor parks and other business centres to protect traders and their customers.
According to a keke operator who gave his name as Ndubuisi, “This sit-at-home order is biting hard on the people especially people like keke operators. It is good that IPOB has cancelled the order, but people are still afraid of coming out due to the fear of attack of the unknown. Many people have lost their lives and businesses because they dared to come out. I suggest that the state government should provide adequate security on the roads every Monday, while the IPOB should deploy their members to the roads. This is the only way to encourage residents to come out.”
However, in Umuahia, the Abia State Capital and Owerri, Imo State capital, residents went about their businesses without fear or intimidation. Banks in the capital city also opened for business unlike previous Mondays. The markets were also opened while human and vehicular movements flowed freely.
There was however an unconfirmed report of an attack on passengers coming to Umuahia from Ohafia.
But when contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Geoffrey Ogbonna said some miscreants suspected to be robbers that blocked the Igbere section of the Ohafia -Umuahia road.
He said that on sighting a team of police and military van on patrol the suspected robbers abandoned the roadblock and fled into the bush.
The police spokesman however said no arrests were made but added that free flow of traffic had since been restored on the road.
In Owerri, business outfits that had shut for six weeks due to the sit-at-home ordered by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), resumed operations on Monday.
Our correspondent who went round the capital city saw banks, offices, markets, filling stations, eateries, shops and motor parks open.
There were also an increase on private and commercial vehicles on the roads, unlike what obtained in the past weeks when the roads were deserted.
On Wetheral, Douglas, Orlu, MCC, Egbu roads, as well as the Ikenegbu layout, almost all the shops were open for business.
But the situation wasn’t the same in Orlu area of the state as residents of the area which still sat at home, apparently out of apprehension. The roads in the area and shops were deserted.
Orlu has been the epicenter of violent attacks in the state.
In Enugu, movement was skeletal; the major market gate in Enugu was opened but nobody was inside the market. Banks were still under lock and key.
In a chat with a commercial driver who didn’t want his name in print, said that he came out for business because IPOB has cancelled the Monday sit-at-home. He said that people were scared of being harmed by hoodlums who parade themselves as IPOB members.
In Nsukka, there was improved human and vehicular traffic on the roads when compared to previous Mondays. Vanguard observed that all the commercial banks in the university community were shut.
Vanguard equally observed that the popular Ogige Market in the metropolis was open, but neither traders nor customers were seen in the market.
It was also learnt that there was chaos at Orba Road in Nsukka metropolis as hooded were seen trying to enforce the sit-at-home order earlier in the morning.
Security agencies display ‘show of force’ in Abakaliki
NORMAL economic activities have resumed in Abakaliki in the Ebonyi State capital as citizens were seen going about their normal businesses, not minding any infraction.
When Vanguard moved round the state capital, security agencies in the state including the military and Nigeria Police were seen carrying out what they described as “show of force” to showcase their strength and formidability.
There were no reported cases of harassment from any individual or group of persons on the citizens of the state. But large shopping malls, supermarkets and eateries were closed, not minding the free movements of both human and vehicles across the state.
We put in place water-tight security —Abia Police
Reacting to allegations of lack of security, the Abia State Police Command said that it had adopted proactive measures including convoy patrol to reassure residents of their security as they go about their legitimate businesses amidst fears surrounding the suspended “ghost Mondays” by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
Police Public Relations Officer PPRO, Geoffrey Ogbonna, told our Correspondent that the personnel of the command had been deployed to ensure every part of the state was fully policed.
He said that adequate proactive security measures had been put in place to ensure the security of lives and property across the state.
Ogbonna assured residents and visitors to the state to go about their legitimate businesses without fear of any intimidation.