There is an impending showdown between Nigerian security forces and supporters of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) following a sit-at-home order by the group in the South East and South South geopolitical zones. While the police and army authorities have warned against obstruction of normal activities in the regions, the separatist group has vowed that nothing will stop it from going ahead with the protest. In view of the contentious matter, the Ebonyi State Police Command has told inhabitants of the state to go about their normal businesses today without any fear of molestation, assuring them that their security is guaranteed. The state police commissioner, CP Musa Kimo, gave the directive yesterday following the September 14 sit-at-home order by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, after soldiers on a military exercise, codenamed Operation Python Dance 2, invaded his country home in Umuahia, Abia State. LEADERSHIP recalls that, one year ago, soldiers invaded the palace of HRH Eze Israel Kanu in Eziama Afaraukwu, Umuahia in search of Kanu, an invasion that reportedly left scores of members of the IPOB and others either wounded or dead. Since the September 14, 2017 incident, the whereabouts of Kanu, his parents, Eze Kanu and his wife, and some of his aides and loyalists have remained unknown, hence the separatist group’s sit-at-home call.
But in an effort to douse any fear of possible harassment amongst Ebonyi residents, CP Kimo called on the management of commercial institutions, the leadership of different markets in the state and the general public not to express any fear while going about their normal businesses as men of the command are battle ready to clampdown on members of the separatist group if they cause any trouble.
Briefing journalists at the state command headquarters in Abakaliki, the commissioner of police said that the sit-at-home protest as proposed was meant to force law abiding members of the public, especially within the South East, not to come out on September 14. He said, “We are aware that IPOB has concluded plans to intimidate, harass and molest law abiding citizens. I want to assure all responsible law abiding citizens and other people who are here to do their business that cogent security measures are in place to ensure that the people go about their normal businesses. “I also want to appeal to parents and guardians to warn their children to desist, otherwise if they come out, they will meet their Waterloo.”
Kimo also assured residents and traders in the state of his command’s resolve, in partnership with other security agencies and relevant stakeholders, to continue to ensure a safe and secure state.
Collaborating the position of the Commissioner of Police, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP, Loveth Odah insisted that there was nothing to worry about before, during and after September 14 concerning the alleged proposed sit-at-home protest being contemplated by IPOB members. ASP Odah further stated that anyone caught trying to disrupt the existing peace and security in the state under any guise would be made to face the full weight of the law. She reminded financial institutions in the state on the need not to close bank business activities before, during or after on the said day as the manager of any bank found to have closed for business would be made to answer some questions.
“We have held meetings with managers of banks, leadership of market unions, commercial motorcycle operators, and leadership of tricycle operators in the state, among others, to assure them on the need to go about their normal business and they have given us their word. “We won’t stop anyone who decides not to open his shop or who decides not to open for any business but should anyone in any guise attempt to force or intimidate people not to open their shop, then the person would have questions to answer to the command.”
Meanwhile, the zonal leader of Ebonyi Central zone of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State Biafra (MASSOB), Biafra Independent Movement (BIM), Mr. Sylvester Useh yesterday said the group was not part of IPOB’s sit-at-home order for September 14. Useh, in a telephone interview with LEADERSHIP in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, said that rather than heed IPOB’s call, Ndigbo should instead participate actively in the forthcoming 19th anniversary celebration of BIM in the state as no form of violence would mar the exercise.
According to the MASSOB BIM leader, the group is not known for violence and, as such, security agencies should not bother about any breakdown of law and order during the exercise slated for today, September 13.
“Our celebration is usually done every year and we are not violent about it. We are not part of IPOB sit-at-home order. That is not our modus operandi. We are not forceful in nature. MASSOB BIM is headed by Uwazurike, the Biafra leader.
“We urge lovers of Ndigbo to come out and celebrate with us on September 13, 2018. We are not causing any war. We are civil and we are not going to block any street. It is a pure celebration in the state.”
Meanwhile, the Enugu State Police Command has warned members of IPOB to desist from their planned sit-at-home exercise slated for tomorrow, Friday.
A statement from the police PRO in Enugu State, Ebere Amaraizu, described the intended act as unpatriotic and inimical to the socio- economic development of the state, even as he warned those behind the unwholesome habit to desist from any act that would bring them in conflict with the law.
Amaraizu advised parents and guardians not to allow their children or wards to be used by any group to disrupt the existing peace in the state.
“The command, in this regard, advises those in this intended act to toe the part of peace and order in the state, as the state police command, working in synergy with other security agencies, would stop at nothing at ensuring that the existing peace in state is not disrupted or compromised,” he stated.
He further advised members of the public to disregard the sit-at-home call and go about their normal lawful businesses in the state without fear of any molestation or intimidation and to promptly report any threat to peace in their environment to the police.
Also, the Anambra State police command has warned the public to ignore the IPOB sit-at-home order.
The state commissioner of police, Mr. Garba Umar, in a press conference, reminded members of the public that IPOB was not recognised by law, that it had been proscribed and, as such, members of the public should not to heed any order by the group.
He further gave assurance that the police command had mobilised forces, including other sister agencies – Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps and the military – to provide adequate security for all law abiding citizens.
Umar stated: “We assure all members of the public that we have made arrangements to provide adequate security in all commercial centres, worship places and schools and all other places that security is necessary.
“This IPOB people – legally, they do not exist. We are appealing to the members of the public on no account will they be coerced to join this IPOB people”, the CP warned
IPOB Insists On Sit-at-home Order
Nevertheless, the leadership of IPOB has insisted that it would not cancel the sit-at-home it order meant to be observed between today and tomorrow in the entire South East and South South geo-political zones of Nigeria.
The group said the call was to protest the sudden disappearance of the leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and his parents in the hands of the country’s security forces; killings of their members when the military attacked the Afaraukwu, Abia State country home of the Kanus; those who were killed in Biafraland during the military operations of Python Dance 1 and 2, and all others who lost their lives in the course of the campaign for the realisation of Biafra Republic.
IPOB spokesman, Comrade Emma Powerful, in a statement made available to LEADERSHIP yesterday in Awka, the Anambra State capital, stated that the organisation would go ahead with the sit-at-home order.
He also said that the organisation had uncovered alleged plans by the nation’s security agencies to shoot at anybody seen outside during the period the order would last and urged everybody in the affected two zones to remain indoors in observance of the order.
The IPOB statement reads: “The leadership and family members of IPOB wish to reaffirm our resolve and determination to ensure a total lockdown of the whole of Biafraland (South East/South South) contrary to the childish and laughable utterances and threats from police commissioners in Imo, Anambra and Enugu.
“The order from IPOB remains that every Biafran, both home and abroad, is expected to stay indoors, away from work, market and roads, from dusk on Thursday, September 13 to dawn on Friday, September 14, 2018.
“A special compliance unit has been set up by IPOB High Command to monitor and take record of traitors and saboteurs who may have been recruited by the government to undermine the sanctity of the occasion.
“Any person or persons found outside on the 14th of September, 2018, will be recorded as an enemy of Biafra and dealt with accordingly. Such person or persons, along with their families, will face the eternal wrath and consequences of their actions. This IPOB generation will not forgive any act of treachery capable of derailing our march to freedom.
“We are determined that South East and South South shall never suffer the same fate as the Middle Belt. What we are fighting against is slavery and subjugation by a very corrupt minority of unenlightened people who think it is their British-given right to lord it over the majority.”
The IPOB statement claimed that security agencies had geared up to kill any IPOB supporters that venture out on the day, asking its members to stay at home, out of harm’s way.
“So the best advice is for every living soul to stay indoors during this general strike. Anybody seen outside tomorrow will only have him or herself to blame,” it warned, even as it advised residents to stock up on household needs for the exercise.
“By observing the sit-at-home tomorrow, we the people of Biafra would be conveying an unequivocal message to the international community that we are determined to live as free men, away from bondage that Nigeria has become. 14th of September 2018 will send the clearest message to our detractors that we as a people will no longer allow ourselves to be held hostage to military terrorism.
“We are aware of the fact that Nigeria security apparatus have rolled out their hardware ready to kill anybody that ventures out on the 14th. Trigger-happy army and police will arrest and kill anybody found on the road on Friday, so the best advice is for every living soul to stay indoors during this general strike. Anybody seen outside tomorrow will only have him or herself to blame,” the IPOB statement further read.
Meanwhile, despite the order, everywhere in the major cities in Anambra State, especially Awka, the state capital; Onitsha, the commercial hub; Nnewi, the industrial town, and Ekwulobia remained calm yesterday as everyone one went about their normal activities.
There was no panic purchasing of food items in any of the markets by members of the public; however, people were seen discussing the sit-at-home order in groups.
While some people viewed the order as unnecessary, others expressed misgiving at the manner IPOB was being intimidated, with its members allegedly being killed by the security agencies.
Army Warns Troublemakers To Steer Clear Of S’East
But the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Enugu, Maj.-Gen. Emmanuel Kabuk, has advised troublemakers to steer clear of the entire South East geo political zone.
Kabuk, who gave the warning yesterday in Enugu while addressing a joint security patrol team within Enugu metropolis and its environs, noted that the security agencies were uniting their strength to protect and defend law abiding citizens from misguided individuals and groups in the society.
Members of patrol team were drawn from the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air-Force, Nigerian Police, Department of State Services, Police Mobile Squadron 3, NSCDC, FRSC, Nigerian Immigration Services, Nigeria Customs Services and Anti-Cultism Unit of Enugu State Police Command.
“With this exercise, we are clearly sounding a note of warning for trouble-makers to steer clear of the entire South East and other places of 82 Division areas of responsibility. We want the existing peace in the South East to continue unhindered.
“We will not fold our arms as members of the security community in this state and the entire South East and watch some misguided individuals or groups to molest and intimidated innocent and law abiding citizens,’’ he said.
The GOC, however, assured that the security community was not after anybody or group but was working hard to ensure that peace reigns to enable people go about their lawful businesses.
In the joint security patrol, it was observed that over 50 vehicles patrolled major roads, avenues and streets within Enugu metropolis and its environs for over three hours.
Meanwhile, the Imo State Police command, the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Air Force, Civil Defence corps, and other security agencies pledged to crush anyone who jeopardizes the peace prevalent in Imo State.
This position was made known by the Imo State Commissioner of Police, CP Dasuki Galadanchi, and other security chiefs when they addressed stakeholders drawn from the different sectors of the state, including the media, students, transporters, Nigerian Medical Association and civil society organisations.
The other security heads include the Brigade Commander in charge of 34 Artillery Brigade, Obinze, H.I. Bature; the Air Force Commander in charge of Imo; his Nigerian Navy counterpart; the State Director of the Department of State Services (DSS), and the State Immigration Comptroller.
Others were the State Comptroller of the Customs Service; the State Commandant of the FRSC; the State Comptroller of the Prisons, and the State Commandant of the NSCDC.
CP. Galadanchi said, “We are here to tell the good people of Imo State that together we are saying no to any form of sit-at-home order. People should ignore the empty threats. Anybody who has genuine business to transact that day should feel free to do so, because we assure everyone of their safety.Anybody who thinks he can come out and threaten people to keep them from their legitimate businesses has all of us to contend with.”
On his part, the General Officer Commander, 34 Artillery Brigade, Brigadier General H.I. Bature advised any group disenchanted with any issue to embrace legitimate mediation processes or contend with the united force.
General Bature advised any group disenchanted with any issue to embrace legitimate mediation processes or contend with the united force.
“Our brothers who have a different ideology, for the sake of peace, there are different ways to seek redress and they should realise that their rights ends where that of another person stops; they should not encroach on any other person’s rights. I urge the press to inform people, corporate bodies, and everyone that people should go about their business without fear,” Bature said.
LEADERSHIP recalls that since the September 14, 2017 incident, the whereabouts of Kanu, his parents, Eze Kanu and his wife, and some of his aides and loyalists have remained unknown.
A visit by our correspondent to Kanu’s country home in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, revealed that the gate has remained under lock and key with three abandoned vehicles outside since then.
A plastic signage at the entrance of the palace was broken into pieces while a banner with the Star of David and the inscription ‘Yaweh Yashua Synagogue’ hangs on its external wall.
The palace, which was once a beehive of activities by pro-Briafra agitators and even foreign media, had become a shadow of its former self.
The IPOB leadership’s sit-at-home order during the anniversary of the invasion may not be seriously heeded by the agitators, their sympathizers and the general public.
Many respondents to our inquiry on the directive indicated that they were more concerned about their personal safety and economic wellbeing than the agitation.
Speaking to our correspondent, a younger brother of the IPOB leader, Mr. Emmanuel Kanu, said the invasion experience had been very traumatic for the family, IPOB members, and the community.
He said the period would be an opportunity for the members to stay back to mourn those who died during the invasion, adding that they paid the supreme price for others to live.
Kanu said even if the directive failed to achieve the desired result, he was happy that the announcement had been made despite the odds.
Meanwhile, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Anthony Ogbizi, has appealed to the general public to disregard the separatist group’s directive.
Addressing newsmen at the Central Police Station, Umahia, after a show of force organized by the command, Ogbizi warned that the police would not condone any threat to law and order.