Call it fear, or perhaps obedience, but the sit-at-home order issued by the proscribed group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) recorded almost 100 per cent compliance as all social and economic activities were shut down most parts of the south east.
At least eleven people died in Enugu, Abia and Imo states in killings and confrontation between hoodlums and policemen.
IPOB had called for people to stay at home in commemoration of the massacre of thousands in Igbos before the outbreak of the Nigerian Civil War in 1967.
In Imo State, from Owerri to Okigwe and to Orlu senatorial zones, not a single market or big enterprise was open. Banks were totally shut and not even customers dared to go to any Automated Teller Machine (ATM) to get money.
Perhaps due to the total compliance with the sit-at-home order, there was nobody on any road, just as there was no incident in Imo.
Douglas Road in Owerri considered a market street in the state was a shadow of itself as the place was totally deserted and nobody, not even youths, were on the road to play football as they are wont to in times past. It was unlike Saturday and Sunday when there was partial compliance.
Orlu and Okigwe zones also recorded total adherence to the sit-at-home order.
A man who identified himself simply as Odogwu said the recent security skirmishes in the state contributed to the total compliance of the order as everyone was scared and concerned about their own safety.
Military helicopters were sighted hovering around the Imo airport area with no vehicular movement in major roads of Owerri, the Imo State capital.
Markets, roadside shops, malls and filling stations also remained closed, with heavy presence of security operatives in major junctions in Owerri and its environs.
Communities around Owerri suburbs locked all entrances to their communities to ward off invaders.
Some of the places with heavy security presence are the Akachi, Okigwe and Dick Tiger Road, Imo State University junction, Control junction, Airport junction, Obiangwu-Ngor Okpala, Amakohia- Akwakuma flyover and the World Bank/ Umuguma junction.
Some residents who spoke with our correspondent said they obeyed the order to be on the safe side.
Mrs Chinyere Obi, a trader said: “I have not displayed my wares today. In fact, my table is upside down so that I will not be labelled a saboteur.”
Another trader, Chidi Odu, who lives around Akwakuma, a suburb of Owerri, said she could not bring her wares outside her compound for fear IPOB members might be moving around.
Ndu Francis, a tailor, said he obeyed the sit-at-home order because everyone around his area was at home.
He said that opening his shop might be an effort in futility as clients might not readily come around out of fear.
Also, respondents who spoke with LEADERSHIP from Ahiazu and Aboh Mbaise areas said that while there were no vehicular movements, helicopters were heard passing overhead at intervals.
Following the shootout between the police and hoodlums in Mbaise yesterday, residents said that there was uneasy calm in the area.
Chimezie Odom from Nnarambia in Ahiazu Mbaise who spoke to us said that shops in the area were closed with no vehicular movement.
Charles Osuagwu from Aboh Mbaise said that the streets are empty and noiseless, adding that there was heavy presence of security operatives in the area.
Ebuka Felix, a bus driver, expressed displeasure at the situation saying he would be losing money he would have made if he were plying on the road.
In River State, residents of Port Harcourt yesterday ignored the sit-at-home order by IPOB and went about their normal businesses.
However, one person was seriously injured yesterday when an explosive suspected to be dynamite exploded at the Mile Three Market in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
The explosion, which occurred at about 6:30am, caused pandemonium in the market as traders and their early morning customers fled in different directions.
LEADERSHIP observed that after about one hour when it was ascertained that there were no casualties in the incident, and with the arrival of security operatives at the scene, the traders returned and continued with their business.
When contacted, the police public relations officer in the state, Nnamdi Omoni, confirmed the incident.
LEADERSHIP observed that while the roads and streets were full of traffic as against what obtained in previous years, almost all the markets, including Mile Three, Mile One and Ikoku Spare Parts market were open.
It was further observed that traders at the Ikoku Spare Parts market, who used to lead in activities of IPOB and Biafra agitation, could not lock their shops and sit at home due to ongoing demolition of some structures in market to pave the way for the construction of a flyover project on Ikwerre Road.
Some of the traders who spoke with LEADERSHIP said they cannot be observing the directives of IPOB and leave hoodlums to loot their shops during the demolition exercise.
One of the traders, Chukwuma Onu said: “My brother, you can see what is going on here; they are demolishing Ikoku Market to build flyover and thugs are looting people’s shops because there is no security presence here.
“Some of us decided not to sit at home as ordered by IPOB because how do you expect me to sit at home and allow thugs loot all the wares in my shop. I know that the demolition may not get to my shop but I don’t want to take chances.”
In every part of Anambra State, virtually every sector, including markets, commercial banks, schools, government offices, petrol stations, entertainment centres, street trading and other businesses, etc., were abandoned yesterday as residents complied IPOB’s directive.
Retired Judge, Immigration Provost Killed In Enugu, Imo
The Enugu State Commissioner of Police, CP Mohammed Ndatsu Aliyu, has ordered a full-scale manhunt of yet-to-be identified armed assailants of a former judge of the Enugu State High Court, Justice Stanley Nnaji.
Justice Nnaji was driving in a black Mercedes Benz Jeep when he was dragged from his vehicle in broad daylight, killed and dumped by the roadside.
The gunmen, who were captured in a video clip by people at the scene, drove away after killing Nnaji in the car. The former judge was rushed to the Parklane Hospital in Enugu, where he was confirmed dead on arrival.
The police in a statement signed by the public relations officer, ASP Daniel Ndukwe, said Nnaji was trailed and shot dead along Ebeano Tunnel, Enugu.
The police said he was rushed to the hospital, where he was confirmed dead by doctors on duty and deposited in the mortuary for autopsy.
He urged residents of the state to remain law-abiding, vigilant and assist the Police with useful information that will lead to the arrest and prosecution of the assailants.
In Imo State, the chief provost of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Okiemute Mrere, was also killed by gunmen.
Mrere was assassinated on Saturday night on the Owerri- Port Harcourt Road in Owerri, his colleagues disclosed yesterday in Owerri, the state capital.
Senior NIS official said the deceased’s corpse was found in a bush on Sunday morning.
He was allegedly riding a Hilux van belonging to the NIS when he was shot and killed.
The sources said the assailants did not take the victim’s service pistol as it was found on him when his corpse was discovered, the next day.
He said, “The official Hilux van he was riding in as of the time he was attacked was riddled with bullet holes. The command is quiet. There is panic as officers are dumbfounded with this tragic development.”
Police spokesperson, Winifred Ogu, who confirmed the murder incident disclosed that investigation was ongoing.
The state commissioner of police, Abutu Yaro, said, “I do not have the brief.”
2 Policemen, 8 IPOB Members Die In Umuahia Attack
Two police inspectors serving under the Abia State Command died in an attack by unknown gunmen on Command’s Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) at Umuagu in Umuahia North Local Government Area of the state.
The Abia State police commissioner, Janet Agbede, who confirmed the incident in a press conference held on her behalf by the Police Public Relations Officer, Geoffrey Ogbonna, stated that the two inspectors died in a gun duel as they were trying to repel the attackers.
Agbede also claimed that eight members of the unknown gunmen believed to be members of IPOB and ESN (Eastern Security Network) were also gunned down, adding that the police recovered a Sky Blue coloured Toyota Sienna with registration number EKY 40 BG Lagos State and a red coloured Toyota Camry with Reg. number SMK 417 EH Lagos State used by the gunmen.
The PPRO said the attackers had stormed the police formation at about 6pm on Saturday, shooting sporadically.
According to the police imagemaker, reinforcement from the command headquarters, added to the fierce engagement with men on ground, saw eight of the hoodlums neutralised.
He added that some of the attackers escaped with gunshot wounds while two vehicles were recovered.
The facility, he said, was burnt down following the detonation of an explosive through the back of the building.
He said some suspects in detention were released and an exhibit car burnt, but no firearm was taken away.
We’re Safe, Hausa Community In Abia Declares
Two different groups of Hausa youths encountered during the monitoring of the sit-at-home on order on in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, have said they were not molested.
The first group, speaking to LEADERSHIP beside a first generation bank along Uwalaka Street, said they had been moving about conducting their respective businesses unhindered.
Confirming that there are aware of the order, they added that they were heading to Eket Street to buy food and to observe their prayers before returning to their businesses places.
According to the younger and second group, who spoke in a bus, they are confectionery hawkers and gave their names as Muhammadu Yusufu, Adamu Garba, and Musa Muhammed.
Explaining that they are law abiding citizens who are out to fend for their families and themselves, they insisted that the security of lives and property lies in God’s hands.
Against what is obtained at both private and public establishments across Umuahia, the Abia State capital, the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) was open and attending to patients.
Moving around the facility, Monday, while the sit-at-home IPOB order ran, LEADERSHIP observed the staff discharging their duties as patients were trickling in and out.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior management staff at the centre maintained that their prime duty is to save lives.
According to him, “We are very mindful of our responsibility to the society. Who knows whether there will be an emergency today and again who knows who it might be.”
Police Confirm Death Of Hoodlum In Ebonyi
The Ebonyi State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, DSP Loveth Odah has confirmed the death of one of the hoodlums during a gun battle with the police.
She explained that some hoodlums were intimidating and forcing people to comply with the “sit-at-home’’ directive of IPOB and had to be stopped.
DSP Odah noted that the police had secured the area and embarked on a “show of force’’ to maintain law and order in the state.
“One of the hoodlums lost his life when they opened fire on our men. People were going about their legitimate businesses and activities in the area but the hoodlums were distracting and forcing them to obey the IPOB’s `sit-at-home directive.
“They blocked some axis in the metropolis, collecting motorcycles and burning them.”
Assailants Burn Police Station In Imo
Barely 24 hours after erstwhile Presidential aide, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak was gunned down by gunmen in Owerri, unidentified gunmen yesterday set the Amandugba Divisional Police Headquarters in the Isu Local Government Area ablaze.
The assailants threw in inflammable substances into the police facility and ignited it instantly.
This has brought the number of razed police stations to four within one week in the state. The inferno shattered the quietness in the area occasioned by the adherence to the sit-at-home order issued by the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
A village source who pleaded anonymity said that the assailants threw in explosives that ignited fire immediately.
Bandits Kill 2 Policemen, Islamic Cleric 12 Others In Niger
Barely 24 hours after bandits abducted 200 Islamic school pupils in Tegina , 50 kilometres away in Beri village, no fewer than 15 people including two policemen and an Islamic cleric, Sheik Bello Beri, have been killed by same Bandits.
The bandits struck in Beri, Mariga local government area of Niger state, setting ablaze the only police station in the village.
LEADERSHIP gathered that 60 bandits on motorcycles invaded Beri village about 7am and operated till 11am without any external security help, apart from seven policemen in the police outpost in Beri and some local hunters.
An eyewitness Sani Yakubu said the bandits tried to abduct some villagers but were repelled by the village hunters using dane guns. 15 people were, however, killed.
Yakubu told LEADERSHIP that the villagers, with the help of the policemen, were able to kill the leader of the bandits and two others but that they left with the bodies of their men.
Consequently the villagers, according another source, blocked the Beri road between Tegina and Kontagora to protest the incessant attacks on them by bandits without security intervention, saying that the situation left many travellers stranded on the road.
The director general of Niger State Emergency Management Agency, Ahmed Inga, confirmed the incident but did not give details of the attack .
We’ll Defeat Terrorists With New Tactics – Army
The chief of army staff, Major General Faruk Yahaya, has said the Nigerian Army under his watch will defeat terrorism with modern processes, strategy and tactics.
Major General Yahaya stated this yesterday during a meeting with principal staff officers, field commanders and general officers commanding (GOCs) at the Army Headquarters.
The COAS pledged to provide exemplary leadership to the Nigerian Army and serve as a rallying point for officers and soldiers while widely consulting with critical stakeholders.
“Nigerian Army of the present must, of necessity, with the changing nature of the current situation, sit up and develop modern processes, strategies and tactics over our enemy in kinetic and non-kinetic battles, win hearts and minds and safeguard our territory. This requires deliberate investment in capacity building, equipment, infrastructure, human capacity, battle orientation and combat efficiency.
“It is with this great sense of responsibility and commitment that I hereby pledge to provide exemplary and professional leadership to the NA, serve as a rallying point for all officers and men. Reposition the NA, the largest service of our Armed Forces, as an effective, dependable fighting force; galvanise our troops for successes in all operations as well as serve the NA and our country loyally.
“Since this cannot be done or achieved without your individual and collective support, I shall deploy wide consultation and group decision making at all levels while working with our extant procedures and provisions and building on the foundations laid by my predecessors including the late COAS, Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru.”
General Yahaya said the Nigerian Army in the 21st century must remain professional and seek to develop competencies that would make it ever ready to undertake its constitutional duties.
“It is therefore, against this background that my vision is a professional Nigerian Army ready to accomplish assigned missions within a joint environment in defence of Nigeria. To achieve this goal, my command philosophy will rest on four pillars, namely: Professionalism, Readiness, Administration and Cooperation.”
While pledging to lead with sense of sincerity and accountability, he said, “We must return to the tenets of adhering strictly to customs and tradition and ethics of our Army. The task ahead of us is enormous but so also is the strength of our common resolve to accomplish them. As your chief of army staff, I hereby restate my commitment to lead you with sincerity, with transparency and accountability at all times. I want to assure you all that I would run the army fairly and justly, giving equal opportunity to all based on individual competencies and character.”
The army chief said he assumed command rather in an unexpected manner following the demise of former COAS Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru and promised to support families of fallen heroes.