In July 2021, the proscribed group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) declared that they will be enforcing a lockdown every Monday in the southeast until its leader, Nnamdi Kanu is released from custody.
The IPOB made their intentions known in a statement signed by its publicity secretary, Emma Powerful tagged the lockdown ‘ghost Monday’.
In the statement, the proscribed group threatened that it is ready to “cripple” Nigeria’s economy if its leader is not released from custody.
For about two Mondays, the sit-at-home order was enforced and the reports that came afterwards were those of bloodshed and destruction meted on those who were said to not obey the order.
This led to a cancellation of the sit-at-home order by IPOB.
This is a look at what has happened since then and why IPOB is giving a new warning to residents in the southeast.
IPOB Cancels Sit-At-Home Order
In August 2021, IPOB announced that it has suspended the sit-at-home protest it ordered in the South-East region.
The proscribed group in a statement disclosed that the civil action would now hold on days Kanu, appears in court.
IPOB however said if there is a need to reverse the decision, the group wouldn’t hesitate.
The statement titled: ‘Why We Are Reviewing the Monday Indefinite Sit-at-Home Order’ reads: “The suspension of the Sit-At-Home by the IPOB Head of Directorate, was as a result of an order from the leader of this great movement Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“In accordance with the directive from our leader, our Sit-At-Home will in the meantime be observed on the date of our leader’s court appearances.
“If we have any reason or directive from the IPOB highest command that requires us to reactivate the suspended weekly Sit-At-Home, the leadership will not hesitate to lift the suspension and continue with our civil action.
“The leadership of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, understands the concern being expressed by the global IPOB family on the suspension of the weekly Sit-At-Home earlier announced by the IPOB Head of Directorate of State, HOS, of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
“We know that our people embraced this civil action wholeheartedly and without any compulsion. The leadership sincerely appreciates the innate desire of Biafrans, to sacrifice their time, resources and energy in ensuring that our leader, Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, is released unconditionally from the illegal custody of the Nigerian state.
Residents Continue Sit-At-Home Order Due To Panic & Fear
Even though the proscribed group called off the sit-at-home order, residents of some southeast sates still remain indoors on Mondays.
The Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, attributed this to fear.
Umahi disclosed this while speaking with State House correspondents shortly after he had meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Umahi, however, warned that if the situation does not change, the economy of the South East will be affected.
He said: “It is a question of fear. You know, the easiest thing to do is to carry a weapon and kill somebody, and that’s what happened in the past.
“And that’s why, you know, some people in the south-east are afraid of coming out. So it’s not a question of compliance. It’s a question of fear.
“You’ll find out that no south-east man wants to miss a day of work. They like to work, they are into trade, commerce, and they want to earn their daily living.
“So this is something that the nation Nigeria must know. And it’s something that security agencies must know. Security agencies must know that they owe south-east people the duty to protect their lives and this is the reason why it appears that in some states, there is compliance to sit at home, even though like you said, IPOB has said it’s suspended.
“But it’s the worst thing to happen to the south-east because it will destroy the economy of the south-east.”
In addition, there are reports that despite the suspension, some criminal elements in the South-East wreaked havoc on innocent citizens by forcefully enforcing the sit-at-home order.
Governor Stage Protest Over Sit-At-Home Order
As residents continue to stay home on Mondays, the Anambra State governor, Willie Obiano, on Monday led a protest in the state.
The governor alongside some of his executive council moved to some streets in Awka, the state capital to enforce the return of residents to their different businesses.
The governor during the protest visited banks and markets at the state capital.
At Eke Awka market, the governor asked traders to open their shops.
He said, “The state must avoid giving urchins the chance to take over the helm of affairs. I chose to lead from the front to end this fear of molestation, harassment, intimidation.
Shortly after the governor made the rounds, action, socioeconomic activities, including transportation, banking and market activities sprang up in the area.
While addressing transport leaders at the Governor’s Lodge, Amawbia, on Sunday Obiano said “I urged the commuters to feel free to ply their usual routes across the state on Monday, whether they ride or drive motorcycles, keke, shuttle, buses.
“If markets don’t open, I will sack the leadership of the market. If the market and park leaders don’t comply, their leadership will be changed within two weeks.”
IPOB Threatens To Cut Off Ears Of Those Still Enforcing Sit-At-Home Order
In a bid to further emphasise that the sit-at-home order has been called off, IPOB has vowed to clamp down on some elements in the Southeast enforcing the Monday sit-at-home.
Speaking on Tuesday, IPOB’s spokesman, Emma Powerful said anyone caught enforcing the order henceforth, would be dealt with vehemently.
According to him, anyone moving contrary to the cancellation of the sit-at-home would face their wrath, saying that IPOB is not clan meeting.
He emphasised that the ears of those enforcing the order will be cut off no matter who the person is.
In his words, “I am happy you said it yourself that we cancelled the Monday sit-at-home.
“We said it in the beginning, but we stopped it, we have told people to stop sitting at home on Mondays.
“Anyone doing anything to the contrary, forcing people to sit-at-home on Mondays, or doing anything to them because they are not sitting at home on Mondays, if IPOB get such people, no matter who the person is, we will cut off his ears, IPOB is not clan meeting, it is a revolutionary movement fighting for the Republic of Biafra”.