Mixed Reactions Greet IPOB’s Sit-At-Home Directive in South-east

0

Our Correspondents

Mixed reactions wednesday trailed the directive of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to residents of the South-east and South-south geopolitical zones to sit at home.

In Anambra State, though Onitsha was shut down completely, Awka remained lively with businesses, schools, banks and markets operating normally, without recourse to the sit-at-home.

THISDAY which moved round the capital city of Awka yesterday morning confirmed that while the exercise started on a good note, with motorists and workers staying away from the roads during the morning rush hours, the order was later shunned with markets opening for normal businesses.

As at 7a.m, when markets in the state usually open, traders were still left stranded as market security officials refused to open the gate, insisting that it was waiting for orders from their chairman to either open or not.
There was however jubilation among the traders at 7:50a.m., when the gate was opened for business.

Roadside traders and shops which were previously closed however opened for business at 9a.m., giving a full indication that the order had flopped.

Security men were also seen moving in convoy, obviously to ensure that no one was molested into closing shop by members of IPOB, who had earlier threatened to blacklist anyone seen on the road.
Most pupils who could not make it to school were called personally by their teachers to come to school as there was no holiday.

Mr. Henry Okwu, a trader at Eke Awka market, said: “I just came back from my children’s school, where I went to drop them off, after receiving several calls from their teachers, asking me to bring them.”
The situation was however different in the banking sector.

As at 10a.m., most of the new generation banks visited were under lock and key, with no worker in sight.
Frustrated customers formed long queues in front of their gates with the hope that soon, they would eventually open.

A source said the staff had resumed, but were trying to be careful to avoid being attacked by urchins.
At about 11a.m., as earlier predicted, banks at Ugwu Orji area where there is a high concentration of banks and also along the Enugu-Onitsha expressway, where a lot of new generation banks have their branches, started to receive customers.

At the state secretariat, civil servants trickled into the complex from as early as 8a.m as they resumed for work.
In Abia State, the commercial city of Aba was totally shut down in observance of the sit-at-home order.
But the situation was different in the capital city of Umuahia where business activities were in full swing.
Aba was a shadow of itself as all the market places did not witness business activities.

The famous Ariaria International Market was shunned by traders who did not open their shops for business activities.

The streets of Aba were also deserted as commercial transporters parked their vehicles at home, making it impossible for people to commute from one part of the city to another or to move out of the city.

Commercial banks in Aba also shut their gates against customers, fearful of likely eruption of violence.

Apparently fearful of possible outbreak of violence, parents kept their children/wards at home thereby depriving both public and private schools their normal academic activities. Teachers who turned up for work could not teach as the classrooms were empty.

However, unlike in the last edition of the sit-at-home directive where residents of Umuahia largely observed it, the situation was different this time around with the city bustling with business activities.

On their part, banks were apprehensive while attending to customers.

Some banks even closed their gates in the early hours of the day before they later opened their doors for businesses when they observed that the coast was clear.

With their harrowing experience of the operation python dance carried out by the army on September 14, 2017 during which many young men and women were killed at the residence of the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, Umuahia residents are still apprehensive of any action that could attract military response.

It was observed that some private schools that opened in the morning later asked pupils to return home to avoid danger should violence breakout later in the day. But as at press time the city was calm with people going about their normal businesses.

Meanwhile, Onitsha proved a different kettle of fish all together as markets, banks, schools and other public places were all shut down.

The streets of Onitsha remained deserted, from the Niger bridgehead which usually was a beehive of activities to Nkpor and other parts of the commercial city were totally locked down.
In Ebonyi State, there was minimal compliance to the sit-at-home order.

The minimal compliance was sequel to the threat issued by the state Governor, David Umahi that any trader who obeyed the directive of the separatist group would forfeit his or her shop to the state government.

However, there were skeletal services at major transport companies in the state, as passengers were sent back home.
Two companies, Onitsha South Mass Transit and Peace Mass Transit closed operations to Onitsha, Aba and Port Harcourt.

A driver with Onitsha South Motors said that the company closed the designated routes for fear of attack on the way.

Meanwhile, other segments visited by THISDAY including Abakpa main market, Motor spare parts, Rice mill had full business activities without any hitches.

Joint security operatives were also seen patrolling the capital city to ensure no victimisation of people for non-compliance.

In Enugu State, a partial compliance was observed with the sit-at-home order.
Though banks and other commercial centres continued with their business activities, it was evident that major roads and streets within the metropolis were literally deserted as vehicular movements were skeletal.

Also, the popular Ogbette market was opened for business, as most shops and markets stalls within the market were under lock and key.

The state secretariat was also without the usual beehive of activities as most workers stayed away from their duty posts.

The presence of security operatives was also noticed at strategic points even as air force helicopters continued to patrol the state aerozone apparently to checkmate activities of the IPOB members who might take advantage of the situation in town to cause mayhem.