Sit-at-Home: Obiano, IPOB Flex Muscles

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Governor orders civil servants to offices or risk sack   Umahi warns traders not to fail to open their shops today in Ebonyi    Police enjoin indigenes to ignore IPOB’s directive
David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka and Benjamin Nworie in Abakaliki

Today’s sit at home order by the leadership of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) may have caused ripples in Anambra State as the state Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, has reportedly ordered civil servants in the state to shun the exercise.

The governor in a three paragraphs statement meant for the state work force, which was obtained by THISDAY in Awka, while speaking through the Head of Service (HoS), Harry Udu, pointedly informed workers that after the democracy day celebration, work was expected to commence in full force.

The HoS in the short memo directed permanent secretaries and heads of ministries, agencies and parastatals to direct their subordinates to come to work.

The directive came as Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi,  warned that any trader in the state who fails to open his shop today in solidarity with the IPOB and MASSOB will be made to forfeit the shops to the state government.
The memo read: “The Governor of  Anambra State has directed that work resumes on May 30 after the public holiday on May 29.

“All public servants must therefore report to their duty posts on Wednesday and the rest of the week. Permanent Secretaries and Heads of MDAs should monitor and report compliance unfailingly. Please circulate to all your staff.”
Though the memo failed to mention the sit-at-home order by IPOB, a source told THISDAY that the directive was meant to weaken the IPOB order.

But IPOB, the secessionist group, has further reiterated their commitment to ensuring that its order was carried.
A statement by the Deputy Leader of IPOB, Uche Mefor, titled: ‘May 30 Sit At Home is about respecting those who fought and died for your freedom’, said it has sent out canvassers to interior villages of Biafra land to sensitise the people on the need to obey the order, and have gotten favourable response that compliance would be high.

According to the statement, “The past few days have witnessed a remarkable public interest in the symbolism of the  May 30 Biafra Remembrance, particularly the Sit-at-Home order. May 30 is just one day in 366 days but it represents an enduring epitaph that recalls many great feats, struggles and tribulations. It is about the greatest collective self-defence against a genocide that lasted four years from 1966 to 1970.

“It is about remembering and honoring those who fought valiantly against that genocide, and those who could not make their way safely to the East as they succumbed to the sheer numbers and bloodlust of their supposed northern compatriots who sought their gruesome death for nothing except for jealousy and speaking a different tongue.

“May 30 does not just remind us of the sacrifice of the soldiers, sailors and airmen of the great Biafran resistance of 1967 to 1970, but also of those who followed them in later conflicts-those who in this era, stepped out to the streets of Igweocha, Onitsha, Aba, among others to protest the resurgence of evil, those who were murdered at the night vigil in Aba, those who were mowed down at Nkpor, and those who, more recently, lost their precious young lives at various locations in Biafraland, including at Afara-Ukwu, Umuahia.

“Particularly with this year’s Sit-at-Home, as we rue our fate as a people and remember those who have died in the course of freedom, we must think of those they left behind – their families and their friends. We must also remember those that are missing since 2015, those in illegal detentions and those that have stepped forward to speak out, to lead; and despite the great dangers ahead, have stayed the course.”

Meanwhile, Governor Umahi, while speaking during the 2018 Democracy Day at Pa Ngele Oruta Township Stadium, Abakaliki, condemned the sit-at-home exercise, stressed that the methods being deployed by pro-Biafran groups in the county which he said are inimical to peace and development of the region.

He warned the members of the proscribed IPOB not to hold any protest in the state, as any activity held would be decisively dealt with.
The governor noted that though the South-east governors proscribed the activities of the secessionists does not mean that they are happy with the alleged marginalisation of the South-east in the affairs of the nation.

He said: “And so, any trader that closes shop will forfeit the shop forever. Anybody that flouts this order will be decidedly dealt with. I ask Ebonyians to go about their businesses freely and peacefully.
“Let me say that when we the South-east governors say that we don’t want the activities of IPOB does not mean that we are very happy with the marginalisation of the South-east in the affairs of our nation.

“What we are saying is that IPOB is not doing it the right way. The right thing was what Ohanaeze did in the comity of Igbo sons and daughters. We do not need second colonisation. We do not need distraction. We want to strive, we want to continue. We believe in God. We with do everything to change our condition.
Umahi called on the federal government to look into the plights of the South-east geopolitical zone and address the issue of marginalisation.

The governor, who make the call during the 2018 Democracy day at Pa Ngele Oruta Township Stadium, Abakaliki, noted that he believed in one united Nigeria founded on equity, justice and fairness.
He, however, emphasised the need for the zone to constructively engage the federal government on the issue.
“We call on the federal government to look into the plights of the South-east people and address the issue of marginalisation. We believe in one Nigeria that is found in equity and fairness and fair play.”

However, the police in Anambra State have enjoined all the people of the state to disregard alleged calls by any group urging them to sit at home today and go about their lawful businesses.
It denied reports that IPOB organised a rally and marched through the streets of Onitsha on peaceful demonstration to sensitise the public on the planned sit-at-home today.

In a statement signed by the command’s Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Haruna Mohammed,
it said such reports are fictitious, saying: “The publication is not only fictitious but also mischievously orchestrated by those elements who are not happy with the prevailing peace in the state which the police and other law enforcement agencies  are working tirelessly to maintain.”

 Mohammed, assured the public that adequate security arrangements had been put in place by combined security forces in the state to proactively nip in the bud any threat emanating from such groups.
“The command will therefore not hesitate to deal decisively with and in accordance with the law any individual or groups under any guise that will disrupt public peace in the state.