The annual Independence Day celebration may take a new dimension this year in some parts of the country particularly the Southeastern region following the vow by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB to shut down activities in solidarity with its detained leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu
Nnamdi Kanu for weeks has been in the custody of the Department of State Services, DSS after he was arrested in a neighboring African country.
S4M recalls that the secessionists’ group had through a statement on Saturday by its spokesman, Emma Powerful vowed to enforce a sit-at-home in the entire region on October 1st, saying there would be operation no Nigerian flag in Biafra land.
According to the statements, residents of the region were warned to steer clear of the streets as there would be no movements.
The statement reads in part: “IPOB has declared 1st of October 2021 total shutdown in Biafra land as a sign of our rejection of the evil construct called Nigeria and there shall be no movement in Biafra land on this day.
“Everybody must strictly adhere to this directive from IPOB leadership, we want to let the world know that Biafraland is not Nigeria and shall not be. Don’t say I don’t know, a word is enough for the wise.”
Also on Tuesday, the separatist group called on agitators of Oduduwa Republic, and Middle Belt and other allegedly “oppressed tribes” in the country to join in shutting down Nigeria on October 1.
Emma Powerful said, “Following our earlier declaration of October 1st sit at home order issued by the leadership of the Indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB), all Nigerian oppressed tribes should reject the Nigerian government’s evil agenda against the indigenous peoples.
“We, the global family of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), request our brothers and sisters in Oduduwa republic and Middle Belt who suffer a similar fate with us to join hands in sympathy protest.
S4M reports that the moves and threats have triggered tension in many parts of the region as shops, offices began to shut down about 12 hours before Independence Day.
A trader in the popular Onitsha market, Emeka Andrew, told S4M that there was panic buying of food and other essential items on Thursday as there would be no movement on Friday (Independence Day).
He said, “Nobody is coming out tomorrow because no one wants to die. We all saw what happened in the previous time when such declarations were made by the IPOB so we are all doing everything possible to prevent that. I’m closing my shop anything 4pm.
“On a normal note, even on Christmas Day, we are always here but this has to do with life and death and some of us have chosen life. Whatever you don’t buy today, you may not get it until next week. Who knows what would still happen on Monday?”
Similarly, a corps member who identified herself as Ene, serving in Anaocha Local Government Area of the state, expressed fear of attack, saying she has resolved to suspend all activities and stay-at-home.
“I don’t want any story that touch, so I have cancelled all my usual activities pending when normalcy return to the state”.
However, speaking with S4M, the state’s Public Relations Officer, DSP Ikenganyia T. Anthony said the command has established an intensive patrol and surveillance to ensure peace and order in the state on Independence Day.
He said, “We have extended our patrol and for us, we are concentrating on our primary duties which include the protection of lives and properties. So there is intensive patrol and surveillance going on”.
In the same vein, a civil servant in Ebonyi State who preferred not to be mentioned in print for fear of victimization told S4M that there is “fear in the land” as the government prepares for the Independence celebration.
“Although Ebonyi State is not like other parts of the region, there is fear in the state currently. Some unscrupulous persons are taking advantage of the peace in this place to penetrate and unleash havoc”.
But the spokesperson of the Ebonyi State Police Command, DSP Odah Loveth told S4M correspondent on phone, that there is calm everywhere, stressing that “everyone is going about his or her businesses in the state”.
She said, “There is nothing like the activities of IPOB in Ebonyi and we are not going to allow that. The commissioner of police has assured adequate security.
“You know that Ebony is going to be 25 years old tomorrow so we are preparing for the jubilee and Nigeria at 61.
“We will not allow anybody to take this Happy moment from us. The public areas will be occupied by us. The police and other security agencies in Ebonyi State will do everything possible to ensure that the state is very peaceful.
“The residents have also promised us that they will comply with the security agencies and that they will report every criminal activity to us”.
S4M’s observation revealed that parts of Imo State particularly the Orlu where the Eastern Security Network wing of the IPOB camps, have been enveloped by tension.
A resident who begged not to be mentioned, said shops and offices are being shut down already as of 4pm on Thursday.
However, Prince Marcillinus Nlemigbo, Imo State chairman of the All Progressive Congress, APC who spoke exclusively to S4M on Thursday, said there is nothing like security change in the state stressing that the Independence Day celebration must hold.
He said there would be movement in all parts of the state tomorrow, stressing that the governor had assured residents of adequate security.
His words,” We felicitate with Imolites and Nigerians in general on this occasion of Nigeria at 61, we wish to reiterate our call for unity as well as political and religious tolerance amongst Nigerians. ”
“It is our common faith that our strength as a nation lies in our diversity. We must continue to respect our plurality and ethnoreligious and political differences to achieve a peaceful and prosperous nation on the sacred foundation of justice, equity and fairness. God bless you all.”