The sit-at-home exercise called by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) flopped in most states and major cities in the South-east except for Onitsha and Nnewi in Anambra, and Aba in Abia State.
IPOB, outlawed by the Nigerian government for demanding an independent Biafra country, announced the sit-at-home in South-east states to coincide with this year’s Independence Day across Nigeria.
The group, which has repeatedly said it is non-violent and wants a referendum to achieve its aims, has been described as a terrorist organisation by the Nigerian government. Its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, jumped bail during his treason trial and is currently abroad.
Ebonyi, Imo, Enugu ignore order
It was business as usual in Abakaliki, capital of Ebonyi State as residents went about their normal business activities.
Also vehicles moved in and out of the state as usual commercial activities were in full swing.
No one was seen on the streets or around residential areas coercing anyone to sit at home during the public holiday in the ctate.
As of the time of this report, the police had not mentioned any person arrested in connection with the sit-at-home directive of IPOB, even as members of IPOB were not seen in their regalia chanting or attracting the attention of the general public.
Police spokesperson, Loveth Odah, stated that there is no reported case of harassment from citizens by any group or groups in the state.
“We are on visibility patrol in the state. There is no reported case of harassment. Ebonyi people should stay safe, law-abiding and go about their normal businesses,” she said.
A similar situation was witnessed in Owerri, the capital of Imo State and Enugu in Enugu State.
In Owerri, it was observed that markets, stores, artisans opened shops for business as usual.
Except banks and government offices that were closed due to the public holiday declared by the federal government, residents were seen moving about freely while some were seen buying and selling foodstuff in the markets and along the roads in the capital city.
In Enugu, markets like the Ogbete main market remained open and business activities went on as normal.
A resident of Owerri, Angela Onu, said that IPOB was being insensitive to the plight of the people by calling for the sit-at-home at this time.
“We just came out of a lockdown, the economy is at a very low ebb and people are suffering and yet IPOB wants people to leave work for a day. IPOB should have shelved the exercise till when the economy picks up a bit,” she said.
Onitsha, Aba comply
The Onitsha main market and other markets in Onitsha remained shut on Thursday.
However, filling stations and some business in the streets were open.
“With the closure of the markets, the vehicular and human movement is highly limited.”
He, however, noted that businesses that opened were not molested or disturbed by IPOB members.
“Some business owners who have sympathy for IPOB also voluntarily didn’t open today,” he added.
In Aba, major markets like Ariaria Main Market did not open even as the streets remained deserted.
However, a few businesses located away from the commercial areas opened. The movement of persons was also noticeably reduced.
A fashion designer, Kalu Nwazuo, said he opened his shop but would not be out of his shop till evening.
“I am working in my shop. But outside, only few vehicles are on the road,” he said.
Exercise successful, insists IPOB
However, the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, said the directive was successful
Mr Kanu, in a statement by his media and publicity secretary, Emma Powerful, said, “The sit at home order issued by the global movement on 1st of October 2020 is totally successful in so many states and cities.”
He claimed that all states in the South-east and South-south complied with the order.
According to him: “There is empty market, roads, no vehicles on the road of Biafra and Biafrans all over the world are on the streets of their respective countries where they find themselves with our brethren from Oduduwa nation.”
He said that the compliance with “this order is to showcase our readiness for the speedy coming of Biafra freedom and independence.”
“We thank our people in South Africa, USA, Canada, Britain, France, Japan, Germany, Indonesia, Australia and other countries of the world for their resoluteness declared to the world over that we are no longer interested in Nigeria. The whole world must understand that IPOB cannot go back to Nigeria.”