There are indications that South-east residents may be forced to observe a four-day lockdown from Monday, as the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu’s treason trial is set to resume at a Federal High Court, Abuja.
Mr Kanu is scheduled to appear in court from January 18 to January 20.
IPOB, an outlawed group leading the agitation for the creation of an independent state, Biafra, from Nigeria’s South-east and part of South-south, had suspended its earlier Monday’s sit-at-home order, in preference for it (the order) to be implemented only on the days Mr Kanu appear in court.
The region is likely going to observe the sit-at-home order on the affected days, in addition to the Monday’s, despite it being suspended.
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.
PREMIUM TIMES, last Monday, reported the shootings in some parts of Enugu and Anambra states by suspected IPOB members trying to force a return to the suspended sit-at-home order.
Business owners express fears
A commercial bus driver in Enugu, Joachim Nebo, is afraid that he would suffer enormous loss in the days to come because of the sit-at-home order.
Mr Nebo told PREMIUM TIMES he would definitely not make enough money to pay his children’s school fees if residents are not allowed to go out for their daily businesses.
“This is the beginning of the term. My children have gone back to school, but school fees were not paid. At the end of this week now, teachers will start chasing them to bring school fees. Where can we get it?” he said.
Ifeanyi Igwe, a businessman who sells Agro-chemicals in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, is feeling sad that his proposed trip to purchase goods next week may not materialise.
He said he is sure of losing N130,000, at least, if the residents are prevented from going out for their businesses for that number of days.
Arinze Ajaezu, who sells computer accessories in Onitsha Main Market, Anambra State, said he risks losing a huge amount of money if the state is locked down for four days.
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“As a businessman, it will affect me very well,” he said.
At Aba, the commercial city of Abia State, Ifeanyi Chukwu, a businessman who sells fabrics, said it may become difficult for people to even feed their family if businesses are crippled in the state.
The IPOB spokesperson, Emma Powerful said on Saturday that the sit-at-home order in the region is only for Tuesday, January 18, and that the other two days in which Mr Kanu would appear in court are excluded so as not to “compound the pains” of the people.
The residents, however, are likely to stay off the streets on Monday, and perhaps the other days, for fear of being attacked.
The agitation for Biafra has led to several killings and destruction in the South-east.
Some of the South-east leaders have been putting pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to release Mr Kanu from detention to pave the way for talks that could bring an end to the insecurity in the region. The president has, however, said he will not interfere in the judicial process.