It was a total shutdown of the sort to the economy of the South-East states on Monday, August the 13th.
From Imo to Ebonyi, to Enugu, to Aba, to Anambra, to Onitsha the commercial city, and Nnewi the Industrial town: Banks, Commercial Transportation companies, Governors’s own filling stations, private retailing businesses and even Government state workers were forced to either shut down or the staffs stayed back in their houses for fear of being attacked or killed as the proscribed Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) sit at home order turned violent. Not even the reassurances of governors and security agencies, as well as the threat of a sack or sanction, could make them come out. Many said they would rather lose their jobs or daily income than die, The Nation Online has reported.
IPOB had urged Ndigbo to stay home every Monday from 6 am to 6 pm to protest the detention of its leader Nnamdi Kanu, who is on trial over treasonable felony charges at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The online medium also reports that Security agents on Monday killed three hoodlums at Umuonyewere, Umuowa in Ngor Okpala Local Government Area in Imo, who were purportedly enforcing the suspended sit-at-home directive of IPOB in Imo State, while another set of hoodlums burnt the newspaper’s distribution Volkswagen car conveying copies of The Nation to the Southeast after they tried to extort N100,000 from the driver in Awo Omamma, in Oru East Local Government Area of Imo.
The driver, Lateef Akanbi, was reported to have recounted his experience, said: “They flagged me down but when I noticed that they were armed hoodlums, not the police, I sped into the bush and hid. From a distance, I heard them saying: ‘Bring N100,000!’. I had no money with me, so, I did not come out. What I saw next was a cloud of smoke coming out from the vehicle. I then realised they had set it on fire.”
Another man Emmanuel Chima Ekeh who said the hoodlums snatched a vehicle from him in the Amafor community at around 6:00 am recounted the attack. He said “they went on shooting sporadically in the community and stopped by a filling station where they claimed to be enforcing the sit-at-home. They assaulted the pump attendants, snatched his phone and all the money he had on him.”
Recall that the sit-at-home call was first observed on August 9th, with violence and several deaths recorded. Properties were also destroyed. Even the subsequent suspension purportedly ordered by Nnamdi Kanu from the DSS cell did not encourage people to come out as his disjointed footsoldiers insisted commercial activities must remain shot down 3 Mondays after.
Like his Imo counterpart, Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi who had threatened to sack civil servants who fail to report to work or sanction business owners who fail to open could not convince his workers enough as both privately-owned petrol station belonging to him and Uzodinma was reportedly shut yesterday.
Some eyewitness accounts said security agents engaged hoodlums in a gun duel at a filling station where they allegedly robbed a fuel attendant of his cash and phones and dispossessing other residents of their valuables.
Two vehicles, including a Toyota Rav4, two locally-made pistols, five bullet shells, hard drugs, charms, two plate numbers, were among other weapons recovered from the hoodlums
Police spokesman, Michael Abattam, a Chief Superintendent of Police, confirmed the people carrying out attacks on residents “were thugs.”
While security agents were seen in their vans demonstrating a show of force on some major streets. Students for the National Examination Council (NECO) examinations were seen going to school in the morning.
Most residents from the part of the country lamented that the situation is killing the southeast economy.
A Catholic Bishop of the Enugu Diocese, Calistus Onaga who spoke at the opening of the Second Plenary Meeting of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) in Enugu, appealed to agitators to suspend the sit-at-home enforcement.
He worried why the agitators, who claimed to be protecting the interest of the poor masses of Southeast, would turn around to inflict pain on them.
Hear his words: “The various leaders of ethnic agitations and interest groups should take care not to employ methods to contradict their intentions in any way or try to reduce their intentions. They should take an example from those who have done that in the past. Martin Luther King who died for the Blacks did not punish those he was fighting for. Even Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu used his father’s wealth to look for our independence, yet he did not come back to demand a return from any of us. When you make us afraid, those you feel you are protecting, what will happen when you get the Independence? This part of the world is known for business; this part of the world is known for education and you tell us to sit at home, doing what What of the parents, who will need to sell their goods to train their children – you tell them to sit at home? Is that the way we can progress?”
In another appeal, a group, the Balance and Equity Group (BEG), wants IPOB leadership to uphold the suspension of the weekly sit-at-home.
Its Founder, Chris Arinze, urged IPOB to help save the region’s economy.
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