Although this year’s celebration wasn’t as intense as last year’s, the ‘Biafra Day’ celebration was nevertheless observed in majority of south-eastern states on Wednesday in compliance with the sit-at-home order issued by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
There had been fears that the celebration would flop due to the disappearance of Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB leader, and the heavy presence of security agencies in the geopolitical zone.
But despite this, the day was observed in many parts of Enugu State, with a group even going as far as attempting to invade the state government house to fly the Biafra flag.
Aba, the commercial nerve centre of
Abia State, was on lockdown as residents observed the sit-at-home order. The streets were deserted — so also were schools, markets and private stalls. Commercial transport drivers did not operate, and even the famous Ariaria International Market did not open.
Banks opened for business but customers were few and far between. The few private schools that opened eventually shut down earlier than normal, fearing the possibility of attack by Biafra loyalists.
However, in Umuahia, residents completely ignored the sit-at-home order, as commercial and social activities proceeded without interruption. Government offices were open, and civil servants went about at their normal business at the State Secretariat. Private and public schools were also open, same as banks, markets and neighbourhood. Commercial vehicles, including tricycle operators, worked too.
In Onitsha, the commercial hub of
Anambra State, as well as Nnewi, there was total compliance. Traders and residents sat back at home, while banks, car parks, schools, gas stations and markets, including the renowned Onitsha Main Market, were all graveyards.
The Onitsha-Enugu expressway was deserted from its Asaba end of the road to Zik’s Roundabout to New Motor Spare Parts Nkpor and the former Ogbunike Toll Gate — same as all the federal highways. Also, the usually-busy Upper Iweka was deserted.
In Nnewi, an IPOB member was shot in a clash with a combined team of the Army and Police at St Mary’s Anglican Church junction. Some people believed to be IPOB members had made a bonfire and blocked the roads, which led to an altercation with the security agents that tried to stop them.
Enugu State, compliance so high that at the ever-busy Main Market Enugu, nearly all the shops were closed. The few shops that opened were patronized by only a handful of customers.
Police arrested more than 21 members and the leader of Biafran Zionists Movement (BZM), Benjamin Onwuka, who headed to the Government House as early as 7 am to fulfill their initial vow to hoist the Biafran flag at the State House. However, they hadn’t even reached the gate of the seat of power when they were arrested by security operatives.
Meanwhile, in Nsukka, the sit-at-home order was completely ignored. Markets, schools. government offices, banks and commercial workers all opened for business. There were even classes at the University of Nigeria (UNN), Nsukka.
A student of the university who spoke with SaharaReporters said she is not a Biafran.
When asked why the Biafran Day was not celebrated in Nsukka, she said: “Biafra Day? I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m a Nigerian, not a Biafram.”
Ebonyi State, people went about their businesses as normal — and no one harassed them — as joint patrol teams of major security agencies were seen all over the capital, Abakaliki, to forestall breakdown of law and order.
Whatever harassment they got came a day earlier, when David Umahi, Governor of the state, warned in his May 29 Democracy Day speech that any trader who closed their shop would forfeit it forever
Notably, the Abakaliki Main Market, the Meat Market and the Kpirikpiri Market were all open for business.
Speaking with journalists on the Governor’s behalf, Kenneth Ugbala, Senior Special Assistant to Umahi on Internal Security, Kenneth Ugbala, said the state could not leave its productive periods to engage in nothing “because we have suffered criminal marginalisation from the states we were carved out from and we want to meet up and we cannot sit at home when we are supposed to be working”.
“I have gone round the two major businesses area in the state. I visited the banks, Abakpa Main Market, the parks where commuters do their businesses and I am happy that in Ebonyi State, we have full compliance to the directive of government,” he said.
“Even in the rural communities or areas, we don’t have any challenge at all. The light cases that cropped in had been resolved in the rural areas; we want to thank God; we want to advise those championing the cause of IPOB or MASSOB to follow the normal process that will be in line with the law.”
IPOB, though, hailed the occasion as largely successful.
“We the family members of IPOB worldwide wish to congratulate all Biafrans and lovers of freedom all over Biafraland and various parts of Southern Nigeria who contributed immensely towards the successful outcome of our heroes remembrance day by sitting at home as directed by the leadership of IPOB,” read a statement issued by IPOB Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful.
“We salute the uncommon courage and resoluteness of all Biafrans that defied the military threats, intimidation from Arewa Consultative Forum and S’East governors to sit-at-home across the length and breadth of Biafraland.”
Source : http://saharareporters.com/2018/05/31/publicprivate-facilities-shut-down-many-parts-south-east-‘biafra-day’-celebrated