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Four-day Lockdown Begins in South East Despite IPOB Pronouncements

Residents of Nigeria’s South East region, the hotbed of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) activities, on Monday began a four-day lockdown following the resumption of Nnamdi Kanu’s treason trial set to resume at a Federal High Court, Abuja on Tuesday.

Streets of most cities in the South East are deserted with markets and offices locked. Transport vehicles are off the roads and even private vehicles are also obeying the lockdown for fear of their being attacked or their vehicles vandalised or burnt.

Kanu is scheduled to appear in court from January 18 to January 20.

Though IPOB, proscribed by the federal government for its agitation for the creation of an independent nation of Biafra had suspended its earlier Monday’s Sit-at-Home order in preference for only the days Mr Kanu appears in court, armed groups who claim to act on its behalf have continued to enforce it.

So, because of fears of residents of likely violence by the enforcers of the lockdown, the South East is going to observe the Sit-at-Home order on the affected days, in addition to the Monday’s, despite it being suspended.

Specifically, residents of the five States of the South East region – Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra, Imo, and Abia – have continued to observe the Monday sit-at-home order, mostly out of fear as some and even motorists have been attacked lately by gunmen for stepping out of their homes on Monday in ‘violation’ of the ‘suspended’ order.

While the group officially issued a statement at the weekend that it would be observed only on Tuesday, some ‘disgruntled elements’  issued a counter order directing the sit-at-home would hold on Wednesday and Thursday (January 19 and 20).

The conflicting dates is, however, giving people in the zone sleepless nights as they do not know which of the order to follow and not run into trouble with miscreants who enforce the directives.

But spokesperson of IPOB, Emma Powerful, yesterday, insisted IPOB would  deal with any member attempting to go against the directive earlier laid down by the Head of Directorate of IPOB headed by Chika Edoziem. He described those calling for the sit-at-home on Monday or Wednesday as criminals and urged the public to disregard and ignore them.

The court, in November, adjourned the trial of Mr Kanu to January after Mr Kanu’s lawyers staged a walk-out. The lawyers had accused the Nigeria’s Secret police, SSS, of preventing them from entering the courtroom.

Despite its suspension, residents of the five South-east states – Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra, Imo, and Abia – have continued to observe the Monday sit-at-home order, mostly out of fear.

Some residents and motorists have been attacked lately in the region by gunmen for stepping out of their homes on Monday in ‘violation’ of the ‘suspended’ order.

The lockdown is already taking its toll on businesses and lives in the region as many people complain of lack of money to buy foodstuff while those on daily labour complain they could face starvation in the coming days.

There is also worry about the loss of school days while most businesses are already relocating to neighbouring Delta State, especially the capital, Asaba.

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