[From BONIFACE OKORO, Umuahia; CHINEDU NWAFOR, Abakaliki; JONATHAN AWANYAI, Asaba]
Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) made do its threat to shut down the entire South East and most parts of the South South regions of the country in observance of its sit-at-home order on May 31, as commercials and social activities came to a halt in various state capitals.
While reports indicate partial compliance in South South states of Edo and, the situation in Rivers and Delta states was of total compliance.
This is also the Ebonyi Governor, Davis Umahi made a U-turn on his earlier directive to the residents of state to defy the sit-at-home order and go about their normal businesses.
Situation report monitored by Oracle Today across the region indicates total compliance to the IPOB order in Enugu, as residents deserted major streets and roads across the state.
Busy roads in Enugu capital city such as, Independent layout, Holy ghost main market, Abakpa, New heaven and Ogui road, Garakki, and others, were all deserted.
The case is not different in offices, banks, shops, schools and markets as they are under lock and key.
Suspected IPOB members, it was gathered, had early hours of today fired in the air to scare residence from coming out of their houses.
Similarly, residents of Ebonyi State also complied totally to the sit-at-home order.
Oracle Today also reports that there was neither human nor vehicular movement in the entire streets and major roads (federal and state) in the Abakaliki capital city and even in the sub-urbans across the State.
Markets, banks, schools and shops, and others, were all closed in the State. Public and civil servants did not also go to work.
Some residents who attempted to defy the sit-at-home in the early hours of Monday were forcefully sent back home by suspected IPOB members on patrol in different parts of the State.
At Nnodo axis of Ogbaga road Abakaliki, suspected IPOB members reportedly mounted blockade on the road, to ensure nobody defied the order.
Eyewitness told our Correspondent that they burnt motorcycles and cars seen plying the Ogbaga road.
It was further gathered that policemen later came to the scene and engaged them in a fierce gun battle, which heightened tension in the area.
Unconfirmed reports said a policeman was killed as well as four suspected IPOB members during the clash, and some arrest were made by the police.
However, the State police Command is yet to react to the development, as of the time of filing this report.
Also, the sit-at-home order by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Monday, grounded business and economic activities in Asaba, Delta State capital and environs.
Shops were shut down in compliance with the order in areas like Oko, Okwe, Bonsaac, Oduke, Abraka park, Akwebunu, Jarret, Cable Point, Traffic Light.
The Oracle Today observed that schools were also locked up as students were earlier asked not to come to school for fear of unknown.
At the popular Ogbeogonogo market, it was the same story as the market which used to be beehive of commercial activities, was in shadow of itself while few traders who did not heed to the sit at home order, were seen discussing in a group.
A visit to the ever-busy Nnebisi and Okpanam roads showed that various banks located along the roads were locked.
However, there were security operatives patrolling the city in a show of force to ensure that nobody breached the law.
Some other security operatives were stationed at various areas Traffic Light, Koka bus stop and Summit junction.
Meanwhile, residents of Umuahia, the Abia State capital, strictly complied with the sit-at-home call by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), to mark the 2021 Biafra Day.
Major streets and roads remained empty as at noon Monday, as only few persons on essential duties were seen on the streets and residents were seen on the balconies of their houses, watching.
Also, major markets and neighbourhood shops, government offices and banks remained closed. Amuzukwu Relief Market which bubbles even on Sundays remained empty as no single trader turned up for business.
A similar scenario was recorded at the nearby ever-busy OrieUgba Market, the biggest relief market in the heart of Umuahia metropolis where a pin could not find its way to the ground during an ordinary day market session looked like a ghost town
Unlike the years of partial compliance, youths who usually turn the streets to football pitches, were nowhere to be seen as Umuahia metropolis seemed to have been completely deserted.
Major roads like like Aba Road, Ikot Ekpene Road, Bende Road, Umuaya Road, Niger Road, Enugu Road, Owerri Road, were all deserted. There was no vehicular movement, except for few tricycles that shuttled past, many of them empty; not even security patrols were sighted. The city remained very calm.
The Oracle gathered that many religious leaders had, last Sunday, severely warned their adherents and parishioners to remain indoors today(Monday), advising that if they must go out, it must be on a very essential mission, to avoid being arrested by security agents or killed by stray bullets.
The religious leaders also advised youths not to dress shabbily or adorn black on black or move around with IPOB insignia.
It was equally learnt that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s Channels Televison interview Sunday night where he declared that he would not compel Abians to open their shops today (Monday) if they chose not to do so, buoyed the decision of residents of the capital city to remain indoors.
Many believed that Saturday evening’s hoodlums’ attack on the State Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Police Station along Uzuakoli Road during which two Police Officers were killed and stray bullets were said to have killed about eight persons, struck fear into the residents, hence their decision to lock themselves indoors Monday, for fear of any eventually.
In a related development, Governor David Umahi back tracked on his earlier order that residents of Ebonyi State should ignore the sit-at-home order issued by the proscribed IPOB.
Recall that Umahi had in a statewide broadcast on Saturday directed Ebonyi Residents to go about their lawful businesses by ignoring the IPOB’s sit-at-home directive in the South-East region.
The Governor warned that any trader who failed to open for business on Sunday and Monday, May 31, 2021, should be ready to forfeit their stores.
“I have been getting voices from certain agitators that tomorrow there will be no movement, this is foolishness. If there is no movement in south east, is there no movement in the whole country? What an Ebonyi man will never accept is to go into second slavery under any guise.
“We know the Biafra we need is to have enough money so that we cleanse up the toga of the slavery that our brothers and sisters subjected us into when we were under what they want us to be. We need money, if you love Ebonyi State, bring money, come up and put one construction. Let us see your houses and investments in Ebonyi state.
“So, I want to say that there will be free movement throughout today, throughout tomorrow and ongoing. I challenged the youths, the local government Chairmen and the politicians, the stakeholders, the security agencies to ensure that nobody is molested and I have banned any form of procession or gathering till further notice in Ebonyi state.
“On Sunday, I will want people who are of Christian faith to go about their church services and pray for our nation, pray for the souls that have departed both during the war and now that people are being killed.
“On Monday, markets must be fully operational. Anybody that the store is not opened, will forfeit the store. I ask the security agencies to massively deploy security people to protect Ebonyians everywhere”, Umahi had said in a statewide broadcast in Saturday.
But a statement signed and issued on Sunday by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Francis Nwaze, said those who wished to observe the sit-at-home order should do so.
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 organize private family prayers in honor 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, FNSE, FNATE 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 penalized, 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.”
Governor Umahi further directed security agencies to do everything possible to maintain law and order in the entire Ebonyi State while ensuring compliance on the ban on procession and gathering of any kind throughout the State.