The sit-at-home directive by the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) largely flopped in the Southeast and Southsouth last Thursday, but the group insisted it was a huge success.
Business activities went on normally in the five Southeast states as well as Rivers, despite the directive.
IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu said the call was to protest “bad governance and economic annihilation”. He urged the Igbo everywhere to boycott all activities organised to mark Independence Day celebrations.
Kanu, in a statement on Thursday by IPOB spokesman Emma Powerful, said: “The sit-at-home order issued by the global movement on 1st of October 2020 is totally successful in so many states and cities in Biafraland.”
He said all states in the Southeast and Southsouth within ‘Biafraland’, including Abia, Rivers, Ebonyi, Anambra, Imo and Delta states, complied with the order.
He said the compliance with “this order is to showcase our readiness for the speedy coming of Biafra freedom and independence”.
“We thank our people in South Africa, USA, Canada, Britain, France, Japan, Germany, Indonesia, Australia and other countries of the world for their resoluteness declared to the world over that we are no longer interested in Nigeria…The whole world must understand that IPOB cannot go back to Nigeria,” Kanu said.
News sources observed that, contrary to IPOB’s claim, a majority of residents did not heed the call in Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and parts of Abia and Rivers states.
It was unsuccessful in Imo as many people trooped out for their businesses. Markets, stores and artisans all opened.
Residents of Enugu ignored the order. It was business as usual. Correspondence, who monitored different parts of Enugu, observed that all the markets opened for business while vehicular movement was not restricted. There were masquerade displays in some areas by the youths and police agencies patrolled to reassure residents of safety.
A trader at Kenyatta Market said: “How can you tell people to sit at home at this critical period? I don’t think any reasonable person that has a family will obey the order. There is hunger everywhere and somebody is asking people to stay at home. I opened my shop for business.”
A resident of Ugwuaji in Enugu South Local Government, Ifeanyi Ogbodo, said the order came at the wrong time.
He advised IPOB to look for other ways to actualise Biafra.
It was also business as usual in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi capital, as residents went about their normal business activities.
Vehicles moved in and out of the state as the usual commercial activities went on unhindered.
Markets in the state, especially the Margaret International Market Abakaliki, were opened.Police spokesman, Loveth Odah, said there was no reported case of harassment from citizens by any group.
The directive recorded low compliance in parts of Port Harcourt. Places such as, Eliozu, Rumuodara and Tank junction, had their shops opened. At Ikokwu automobile spare parts market along Ikwerre Road, traders were seen conversing in small groups talking.
A particular trader, Uzo Aladinma, said he regretted that almost “nothing is working out in this country…People are being killed in parts of the country on daily basis, nobody is doing anything about it…The President is favouring his people over the other parts in job offers, political appointments. There is hunger, hardship, lack of employment, among others.
“We cannot continue to live like this. The FG should understand this, and call for a referendum so that every part goes their separate ways.”
Security Operatives, especially the police, were deployed around the Ikoku area as the men blocked one lane of the dual carriageway of Olu-Obasanjo.
There was partial compliance in Anambra, but residents attributed it to the public holiday rather than the IPOB call.
The popular Eke -Awka market in Awka and the Onitsha Main Market was busy. However, some markets in Onitsha and Nnewi, were locked. The popular Nkwo market, the usually busy Upper Iweka area of Onitsha, with its many parks, was deserted as business activities were grounded.
The ever-busy Niger Bridge was virtually empty, with few vehicles particularly tankers, entering and exiting Onitsha. Filling stations on the Onitsha Enugu expressway up to former Ogbunike toll gate were all closed, but those located on the streets of Onitsha and environs were seen open for business.
A resident said that ”since he started living in Onitsha, traders and markets hardly opened on October 1st…”I think IPOB just played a smart game. They should not take the glory,” he said.
In Aba, Abia’s commercial centre, there was no business activities as most traders stayed home, while it was business as usual in Umuahia, the state capital, owners and operators of commercial parks and loading bays in Aba lamented low patronage.
Some gates of Ariaria and Cemetery markets, among others, were open, but shop owners stayed away. A market leader told reporters that it had been a tradition for the two major markets of Ariaria and Cemetery to close for business on every October 1.
Security officers were on ground as some Hilux patrol cars belonging to the Mobile Police, Counter-Terrorism and conventional policemen were parked on both sides at Sameck junction.