Anxiety, panic and fears engulfed most parts of the Southeastern states yesterday ahead of today’s sit-at-home order issued by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in honour of Biafran heroes who died during the civil war and in the cause of the struggle for the restoration of Biafra state.
In Enugu State, there was heavy security presence in all the strategic points in the state capital, while fighter jets were hovering the state. Regardless, members of the Biafra Zionists Federation (BZF) have vowed to go ahead with their planned declaration of Biafra today.
The group spoke through its self-acclaimed President, Benjamin Onwuka.
He said: “Fighter jets deployed by the Federal Government are hovering everywhere in Enugu State. The agenda is simple, to intimidate and instill fear in us and our members.
“But, we want to make it clear that we cannot be intimidated; that era is gone. Should anything happen to any of our members tomorrow (today), all those involved will pay dearly for it.
“Nigeria is already in panic. Buhari is in serious fear. You can see them flying fighter jets all over; this is what is called intimidation. They have failed.”
Meanwhile, the State Commissioner of Police, Danmallam Mohammed, has warned that the police will not tolerate any act or omission by any person or groups under any guise to disrupt the existing peace in the state.
The commissioner, in a statement signed by the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Ebere Amaraizu, said: “Any person or group of persons caught in any habit or omission capable of disrupting the existing peace in the state will be made to face the full weight of the law.”
The security around the government House, 82 Division of the Nigerian Army headquarters and state police headquarters have been heavily guarded with fierce looking security operatives.
There were also fears and anxiety in Onitsha, the commercial hub of Anambra State, as IPOB had insisted there was no going on the call to remain indoors when they marched through the major streets and roads in Onitsha on Monday, instilling fear on residents and traders.
Daily Sun gathered that the Onitsha main market witnessed a crowd of people rushed to make last minute purchase for fear of what may happen today.
A market leader in Anambra State, who did not want his name in prints, said: “We are going to open our markets and traders should open their shops for business. There is no way the pro-Biafra group will force us to close our businesses, because they are doing anniversary.”
A trader Mr. John Nwokedi said he will not come out today due for fear of the unknown as he recalled past experience where some hoodlums seized the opportunity to loot and attack people who opened their shops for business.
A commercial driver Mr. Emeka Odim said: “I’m going to obey the sit-at-home order; I’m not going to bring my vehicle out tomorrow (today) because I am a Biafran, and I believe in civil disobedience to tell our leaders in this country that we are not one and they should allow us to go.”
Meanwhile, the leadership of IPOB in Ebonyi State, yesterday, dared the Governor David Umahi and vowed to implement today’s sit-at-home order in all parts of the state.
Deputy Coordinator of Biafra agitators in the state, Mr Ugochukwu Nweke, made the avowal while reacting to the state government’s directive on the people of the state to ignore the order.
At a press briefing, on Monday, Governor Umahi’s Senior Special Assistant on Internal Security, Dr. Kenneth Ugbala, warned that shop owners who obey the order would have to forfeit their shops forever, as the government would take over such shops. He said the state government would not tolerate any plot to sabotage its efforts in ensuring the peace and safety of its people.
Similarly, Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, has warned that any civil servant in the state who obeys the sit-at-home order by failing to be on his or her duty post today will be sanctioned.
Consequently, he has directed Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Departments and Agencies to monitor the attendance to duty of the workers today and report accordingly.
But, IPOB leadership in Ebonyi State wrote off the state government’s threat.
It said: “Our activities will go on tomorrow (today) as planned all over the world, not only here, in Ebonyi. Government has no right, whatsoever, to takeover anybody’s shop on the grounds of closing their shops to obey the sit-at-home order.”
Regardless, Owerri, the Imo State capital, was calm yesterday ahead of today’s sit-at-home order. When Daily Sun monitored the situation in Owerri, yesterday, residents went about their lawful businesses as usual. On May 22, members of Movement for the Actualisation for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and Biafra Independent Movement (BIM) had celebrated their own Biafra day with a street march. However, many members of the two groups were arrested by security agencies, but were later released.
Meanwhile, the Anambra state Police Command yesterday said the police and other security agents are battle ready to deal decisively with any pro-Biafra group that tries to disrupt the peace of the citizens today.
The Commissioner of Police in the State, Mr. Garba Baba Umar, in a statement, urged the people to disregard alleged the sit-at-home order and go about their lawful businesses.
He said: “For the avoidance of doubt IPOB is still a proscribed organisation, hence, all its activities remains illegal.
“The command will, therefore, not hesitate to deal decisively with, in accordance with the law, any individual or groups, under any guise, that will disrupt public peace.”
in the state.”