â€¢ Umahi appeals to groups for calm
Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu, David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka and Benjamin Nworie in Abakaliki
The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) wednesday gave a sit-at-home order to be observed on May 30, 2017, in all the states in the South-east zone as well as Delta and River States.
In a similar development, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has stated that the proposed sit-at-home protest would also hold in places outside the Biafra territories, including Kano, Kaduna, Jos, Makurdi, Ibadan, Benin, Abuja, Lagos, Lokoja, Jigawa, Jalingo, Mubi, Yola, Lafia among others.
A statement issued by MASSOBâ€™s Director of Information, Edeson Samuel, said the order would be observed in honour of the late Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu and all the Biafran soldiers who died during Nigeria-Biafran civil war from 1967 to 1970.
In a swift reaction however, the police in Enugu State have dismissed the sit-at-home order, urging residents to ignore the order and go about their lawful duties without fear.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Ebere Amaraizu, in a statement said the command remained committed to security of lives and property, and would not shy away from that responsibility.
MASSOB, while calling on all pro-Biafra agitators to support the move, â€œas this sit at home is part of civil disobedience which is in line with our programme.
â€œBy this sit at home, it will help us to plan and conduct referendum in Biafran land. The observation of this sit at home is not for the interest of any particular group but for the interest of Biafrans.â€
The group therefore urged all schools, markets, transporters and companies in Biafran land as well as all Biafrans in diaspora to observe the sit at home.
They ruled out any possible street protest and hoisting of Biafran flags as was the case in the past, adding that the measure was to avert any confrontation with security agencies.
They used the opportunity to rule out any partnership with Chief Ralph Uwazurike-led Biafra Independent Movement (BIM), explaining that they are rather working closely with the IPOB.
Meanwhile, a statement signed by IPOBâ€™s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, said there is no going back on the planned protest as the group is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that it was successful.
The statement made available to THISDAY in Awka said: â€œThis sit-at-home order/remembrance and honour of our fallen heroes which is slated to be observed on May 30 will be the best thing to happen to the people of Biafra since 50 years.
â€œIt will be monitored by international observers, and after that, the struggle for Biafra freedom will move to another level, therefore everybody, both old and young, man and woman, must stay indoors, no protest, no movement in Biafraland from 6a.m. to 6p.m. on that day.â€
Powerful stated that Biafrans living outside Nigeria must present written letters containing the plights of their people to the authorities and governments of the respective countries where they reside.
However, he Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, has appealed to the pro-Biafra groups to remain calm in its agitations for the sovereign state of Biafra and be part of the move to discuss and understand their differences for the greater interest of the country.
Umahi, who spoke on behalf of the South-east governors as its chairman in Abakaliki, appealed to the people that whatever anybody is doing towards asking people to stay back on May 30, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of declaration of Biafra by late Ojukwu, should have a second thought, stressing that they should rather engage in a formidable dialogue to resolve all differences.