David-Chyddy Eleke in Awka
There is palpable tension in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, as the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, prepares to bury his father and mother, Eze Israel Kanu and Ugoeze Sally Kanu, today in Afaraukwu, Umuahia.
Meanwhile, a source within Afaraukwu has disclosed that security agents were patrolling around the home of the IPOB leader, most of who are on mufti.
The state Police Commissioner, Eneh Okon, had in a press conference in Umuahia told journalists that that police would not allow members of the proscribed group to attend the burial in their regalia or insignia, else they will ‘disrupt the burial’.
The warning may have created tension in the town as an audio message currently circulating in Abia, Imo, Rivers and Anambra States has warned the people to stay away from travelling to Umuahia on February 14 as they may likely be a clash between IPOB members and security agencies.
The audio message, which is being circulated on WhatsApp with the voice of an unknown person, added that IPOB was making plans to match the police if they were attacked, and that such may cause widespread violence in the town.
Though there have been no message as to whether Kanu will attend the burial of his parents, as IPOB has remained silent on that, a group, Imeobi Igbo Forum, has begged the IPOB leader to stay away from the burial venue in order to avoid being noticed by those going after him.
Addressing journalists in Onitsha, Anambra State, the National Chairman of the forum, Chief Mike Ikegulu-Onugha, stated that “Kanu should steer clear of the burial arena until all the issues are resolved.
“He should wait until the coast is clear to come back. The dead must be buried whether Nnamdi is around or not. If he comes home, it is an opportunity for those who are looking for him to get him.
“We should not wait until he returns before the dead is buried. Left for me, the federation government should allow him to come and bury his parents. I wish he will come and bury his parents the way I did mine.
“However, rather than come and get involved in all sorts of trouble and military palaver, it is better for him to keep off.”
Meanwhile, IPOB has insisted that it would not be cowed into abandoning the responsibility of paying last respect to the parents of its leader.
The Media and Publicity Secretary of the group, Emma Powerful, has said IPOB will attend and conduct itself in a peaceful manner as it has always done. He, however, cautioned the police not to push it into armed struggle through their attacks.
Powerful said: “IPOB has remained peaceful, but it seems the Nigerian Government is hell bent on provoking us into armed struggle that will inevitably result in violent disintegration of Nigeria.
“Nigerians should call their government in Aso Rock to order and impress upon it the need for their army and police to steer clear of Umuahia township on February 14, 2020, in the interest of peace.
“We want to join the people of Afaraukwu in the peacefully mourning of the death of Eze Kanu and his wife, who it must be said died as a result of Nigerian army and police invasion of their home on September 14, 2017.”
THISDAY gathered that in Onitsha, there have been announcement to the effect that markets would not be open for business, as a mark of honour for Kanu’s parents.
A trader in Onitsha main market, Sylva Nwankwo, alleged that “I heard it when the town crier went round the market to announce that they will be no market activities on Friday. I still don’t know if it would work.
Furthermore, Kanu allegedly stated that he has installed a total of 38 Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in concealed locations around his compound ahead of the burial to provide video evidence of any attack by security forces on his members.
The IPOB leader complained that two of the cameras have been found and destroyed by police operatives, but assured that 36 others were still well concealed.
According to him, “Let it be known that Abia State Police under the command of Ene Okon in collaboration with DSS, has proceeded to remove two CCTV cameras installed in and around my hometown to pre-empt and record any terror attack by the Nigerian army and police as was the case in September 2017.
“The civilized world must ask the regime in Aso Rock and Abia State Police Commissioner, Okon, why they are destroying CCTV cameras on private properties in my village if they have nothing to hide.
“So far, they succeeded in destroying two cameras, but I wish to assure them that there are 36 other well concealed cameras recording and relaying in real time their activities in and around my home.”