Businesses including banks, fuel stations, schools and motor parks in the commercial cities in the South East of Nigeria were reported shut on Tuesday, May 30, in response to the call for a sit-at-home peaceful protest by pro-Biafran groups. One of the residents in Owerri who spoke with our reporter said, “Yes they are restricting people from moving about their normal business. Even where I work, we shut our gates earlier in the morning when the heat was on. But we have reopened to the public now.”
Another respondent, a teacher who resides in Onitsha in Anambra State told Newsbitsng.com that, “It is a total sit at home around here. The school where I teach did not open and I did not want to take unnecessary risks going out. So we are all here watching what is happening on television.”
The Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra, (MASSOB) had called for a sit-at-home today in the South-East to commemorate the declaration of Biafra by the late Chukwuemeka Ojukwu 50 years ago. Hence, Owerri, Enugu and Aba, markets including the popular Ariara main market in Aba were totally closed down.
Another Owerri resident and Biafra supporter said the compliance to the “order” was impressive. “This is the highest compliance recorded in the city in recent times”, he noted adding that it was the same experience all across the eastern states. In Port Harcourt, South-South Nigeria, there was also a high level of compliance according to a residents who spoke to us.
In Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, reports have it that there was partial compliance, as the Abakpa Market, the city’s main market, was opened but most shops still remained closed at press time. Many of the traders were seen gathered in front of their shops discussing the situation. As they noticed that those who flouted the order and opened their shops were not being molested, many of them summoned courage and started opening their shops. But the major private transporters in the city shut down their parks in compliance with the MASSOB and IPOB directives.
However, a few banks risked the situation and opened their doors to customers while a good number of other banks remained shut leaving customers, who thronged to the banks, stranded. Hours later, some other banks opened for business after observing the tight security mounted by police and other security agencies in the city to secure lives and prosperity. Also, police helicopters were seen hovering over most of the cities to provide aerial surveillance especially in Umuahia, the hometown of Nnamdi Kanu, the IPOB leader.
Kanu, who is facing charges of treasonable felony, was recently released on bail. While on bail, he has, however, restated his demand for a Biafran State, and urged support for Tuesday’s sit-at-home. However, shops owned by Igbo indigenes in Lagos showed that many business people from the region flouted the order.
Meanwhile the South-East governors cautioned the agitators in a recent statement through the Ebonyi State Governor, Chief Dave Umahi when he said, “The South-East governors are fully aware of the saturation of various news and information outlets, particularly the social media platforms, with the call by leaders of a movement known as IPOB, who are agitating for cessation from the Federal Republic of Nigeria and formation of sovereign State of Biafra, for a total shutdown of economic activities in the entire Eastern region on May 30, 2017. It would be a tragic dereliction of our responsibility as leaders if we failed to take a clear and definitive stand at this potentially explosive moment in the history of Ndigbo at home and in the Diaspora, and our compatriots within the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” the governors said in a statement signed on behalf of the forum by Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State.