South-East residents defy MASSOB’s sit-at-home directive

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massob_logoResidents of South-East states on Saturday defied the directive of MASSOB to sit at home in protest against the killing of Igbo people in the North by the Boko Haram sect.

The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) had issued the directive to residents in the states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo.

Reports across the five states indicate that commercial activities did not commence early in the morning.

In Imo, the residents went about their normal businesses in spite of the MASSOB directive, following a directive by the state government.

The Commissioner for Information in Imo, Mr Chinedu Offor, had in a statement, urged the people to ignore the directive and go about their normal businesses.

Also in Abakaliki, the markets were open and people carried on their normal businesses.

Chief Basil Akilo, a businessman, said, “It is difficult for people to forsake their business activities for a cause which would not have direct impact on them.”

DSP Sylvester Igbo, the Ebonyi Police Command Public Relations Officer, said although individuals or groups had the right to express their views, it should not constitute a threat to public peace.

“We have, therefore, stationed our officers at strategic positions of the town and other parts of the state to forestall the breakdown of law and order.

“We call on the citizens to go about their businesses without fear and report suspicious persons or movements to security agencies,” Igbo said.

In Umuahia, armed policemen and other security agencies, paraded major streets.

Some traders, who opened their shops, said they did so because of the tight security provided in the state capital.

Mr Geoffery Ogbonna, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, said the police adopted a proactive approach to neutralise the MASSOB directive.

“Our aim was to nip their intention in the bud to ensure that residents carried out their normal activities.

“That was a proactive measure which we carried out,” he said.

In Aba, the commercial city of Abia, business activities did not commence early in the morning as shops opened about noon even in the ever busy Asa-Park Road axis.

Mr John Nwiwu, a motor park worker, said that he and some others had to wait till their colleagues who came on surveillance reported back.

“Right now you can see that the park is full. It was not so some hours ago.

“Our people stayed at home until some of our men who came out to see what was happening reported back to us on phone that there was no problem.

“Now everybody is here and passengers are being moved to all the destinations that buses and taxis in this park go to,” he said.

But in Onitsha, Anambra, security operatives dispersed MASSOB members, who came out to make bon-fires on major roads of the commercial town.

More than 200 policemen supported by detachments of the army and navy were stationed in strategic locations in the town.

Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka, a chieftain of Ohaneze in Anambra, said the signs of compliance with the directive noticed in the town were due to fear instilled in the people.

“Brave people among the people went out and nobody molested or waylaid anyone,’’ he said.

However in Awka, the Anambra capital, there was low human and vehicular traffic.

Although the city was calm, the popular Enugu-Onitsha road was deserted.

At Eke-Awka Market, the major market in the town, shops remained shut as the vigilance group in-charge of security in the market did not allow traders to gain entry into the facility.

There were bon-fires at Oye-Agu Junction but it was learnt that the MASSOB members were dispersed by security operatives.

A resident, Mr Chuma Ndukaife, said he did not want to risk going out because of the uncertainty of the security situation.

“I cannot go out because I am confused with the different statements.

“MASSOB said we should be indoors and the government said otherwise but as you can see, the streets are empty,’’ he said.

The Police Public Relations Officer in Anambra, Mr Emeka Chukwuemeka, said the sit-at-home directive failed since there was vehicular and human movement throughout the state.

In Nsukka, Enugu State, there was heavy police presence around Ogige Market, while many shops remained closed.

When contacted, the Divisional Police Officer, Mr James Nwokolo, said that duty of police was to provide security for residents.

“Our duty is to provide security for residents, we will not force anybody to open his or her shop.

“Policemen are everywhere to ensure that nobody molested anybody who wanted to do his lawful business, “he said.

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