Residents of the five southeastern states are gripped with fear over the sit-at-home order issued by the leader of the proscribed group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, to mark the anniversary of the Biafra Republic Remembrance Day.
IPOB is remembering civil war victims over two days, with a candlelit march on Sunday evening and a strict order for people to remain indoors on Monday for their own safety.
The streets of Owerri, the capital of Imo State, were already deserted on Sunday, as residents stayed indoors after the killing of a former aide of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Ahmad Gulak by unidentified gunmen.
Some hoodlums on Sunday razed the Njaba office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Njaba Local Government Area of the state.
The office is located at Okwudor. The incident is coming less than 24 hours after Atta Police station, customary and high courts were burnt down in the same local council.
Price hike, panic buying in Awka
Prices of foodstuff have gone up astronomically in Awka, the capital of Anambra State as residents engage in panic buying ahead of the sit-at-home order.
Daily Trust’s visit to Eke Awka market, a major market in the city revealed that meat, tomato, rice, and other food items had gone up.
A paint rubber (four-litre cylindrical container) of rice that was sold at N1,500 is now N2,400 while meat that was sold at N5,000 is now over N8,000.
Fresh tomato that was sold for N200 is now between N500 and N600. A paint rubber of garri that was sold for N1,100 is now between N1,800 and N2,000.
A resident, Mrs. Nkechi Ogwu, told Daily Trust that the prices of foodstuff have gone up because people were trying to stock their homes with food items ahead of the sit-at-home order.
Residents of Aba, the commercial nerve centre of Abia State, yesterday rushed to the markets to make last minute purchases of perishable and non-perishable items.
Ariaria International Market, Power Line, Bakassi Shoe Plaza, Ahia Ohuru, Shopping Centre and Cemetery markets recorded huge sales.
The Abia State Police Command enjoined residents and visitors to the state to disregard IPOB, MASSOB or any other pro-Biafra group sit-at-home order.
Its spokesman, Geoffrey Ogbonna, urged Abians to go about their lawful duties and businesses without any fear of intimidation or molestation.
Ogbonna, who assured the residents of the safety of their lives and property during and after Monday, May 31 stated that the police in conjunction with other sister agencies were working round the clock to ensure that Abia is safe.
Men of the Nigerian Army are visibly parading different streets, flashpoints in a show of force while Police surveillance helicopters are in the air, adding more fear and panic to the mind of the people.
Meanwhile, the curfew imposed by the governor of the state, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu in Aba and Umuahia metropolis between 8 pm and 6 am daily is still in place.
Disregard order — Police
The Enugu State Police Command has asked residents of the state to ignore the sit-at-home order and go about their legitimate activities without fear of intimidation or harassment as adequate security has been provided by the command to ensure the safety of citizens.
In a statement by the police spokesman, ASP Daniel Ndukwe, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mohammed Ndatsu Aliyu, urged residents to “totally disregard the unwarranted publication making rounds on social media and purportedly ordering people to sit-at-home, rather than go about their legitimate businesses.”
You may observe sit-at-home order if you like – Umahi
Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi has urged traders to observe Monday 31 sit-at-home order if they so wish.
Umahi gave the order on Sunday evening in a statement made available to newsmen by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Francis Nwaze.
Umahi made the call less than 24 hours after he threatened to seize any shop or business premises that are locked up on Monday in compliance with the no-movement order of IPOB.
The statement reads: “The Government of Ebonyi State has received several requests from some families and residents of the state, requesting that they would like to remain indoors on Monday, May 31, 2021, to organise private family prayers in honour of their loved ones who were murdered during the unfortunate civil war. Some of the people with this special request own shops in some of our markets across the state.
“While as a government, we remain resolute in the protection of lives and property of Ebonyians and all residents of Ebonyi State, we are aware that it is the right of anyone to remain at home or go about his/her normal businesses in this regard.
“Following the foregoing, the Governor, Engr David Nweze Umahi, who is highly in touch with the people has directed that those who may wish to remain at home with their shop(s) locked should neither be penalised, nor their shop(s) seized as it is their constitutional right while the rights of those who may wish to go about their normal businesses should not be infringed upon as it is equally their constitutional right.
“He has also directed security agencies to do everything possible to maintain law and order in the entire Ebonyi State while maintaining the ban of any procession and gathering of any kind throughout the state.”