On July 31, 2021, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) declared every Monday a sit-at-home day starting from August 9, in solidarity with its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu who is currently in the custody of the Department of the State Service (DSS).
In a statement made available to journalists in Awka by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, the successionist group said it arrived at the decision to press for the release of Nnamdi Kanu, the detained leader of the pro-Biafra group.
IPOB warned residents not to attempt to flout its directive as doing so may come with huge consequences.
The group had said, “We wish to state details of this coming ghost Mondays every week, our people must understand that it was designed to show the world how serious we are towards this fight for Biafra freedom and independence everybody must adhere to this clarion call put in place by the leadership of IPOB and it would be good for everyone to know that that IPOB will not relent until Biafra is fully achieved, the DSS can go ahead and keep our leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu incommunicado without access to him and we observed that DSS operatives are torturing our leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu to the point of death that was why they don’t want anybody to see his state of health in the DSS facility.
“This is a call for Biafran leaders, politicians especially those mentioned as those behind his abduction and extradition to Nigeria, if anything happens to our leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu all of them should prepare never to come back to Biafraland because it will not accommodate us together”.
Recall that the Federal Government of Nigeria, on Tuesday disclosed that it rearrested the self-acclaimed Biafran leader after a collaboration with other international security agencies.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN had confirmed that Kanu was arrested by a combined team of Nigerian and foreign security agents in a coordinated interception.
Against this backdrop, he was dragged before Justice Binta Nyako of an Abuja Federal High Court for the continuation of his trial.
Justice Nyako, after listening to Kanu and the government, remanded him in the custody of the Department of State Services, DSS and adjourned the matter to the 26th day of July 2021.
Kanu had a few years ago jumped bail and escaped from the country over an alleged threat to his life.
On resumption of the proceedings on Monday, July 26, 2021, the trial suffered a setback after the Department of State Services (DSS) failed to produce Kanu in court.
Justice Binta Nyako-led High Court faulted the action of the security outfit, noting that she had stayed back in her chambers waiting for the defendant to be in court.
She asked the prosecution to be diligent with dates whenever she gives one, stressing that it was important for Kanu to be present at his trial.
In his response, the prosecution, Mohammed Abubakar, informed the judge that the defendant was not in court due to logistics reasons.
Kanu’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, on his part, decried that the DSS had denied them access to the defendant for eight days.
Due to the obvious failure of the Nigerian secret police to produce Nnamdi Kanu, the presiding judge adjourned the continuation of the trial to October 21, 2021.
Amid his continued detention, IPOB had vowed to shut down the whole of Southeast every Monday until Kanu is released.
But, Kanu’s brother, Kanunta had announced the suspension of the sit-at-home order due to students in the Southeast participating in the National Examination Council, NECO, examination for senior secondary schools.
He had said a new date for the protest would be communicated later.
However, IPOB’s spokesman, Emma Powerful urged Nigerians to disregard the remark by Kanunta.
Powerful warned people of the Southeast against flouting the directive.
Following the DSS inability to produce Kanu in court, as well as the earlier sit-at-home order by the Indigenous People of Biafra across states of the southeast region and beyond, the police in Abia, the home state of the separatist leader, had in a statement signed by the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, SP Geoffrey Ogbonna, warned the group against the unlawful directive, hinting its warning on IPOB’s proscription by the Nigerian government.
The Police accused the proscribed group of planning to use its militia arm, the Eastern Security Network, ESN, to force compliance of the sit-at-home order in the state.
The Security Agency said intelligence reports revealed that hoodlums had also planned to use the occasion to unleash mayhem on the people.
The Abia Police urged the people to go about their lawful businesses, stressing that security agents were on red alert to subdue hoodlums that might want to exploit the situation to cause havoc in Abia.
Meanwhile, making its position known relating to the IPOB directive, the Abia government had in a press release issued by the State Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu at the weekend, said it will not compel anyone wishing to ‘sit at home’ for any reason or whatsoever not to do so, as citizens have freedom of movement under the extant Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
This was even as the state government said it was actively monitoring the trial of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, to ensure that his fundamental human rights are respected.
According to the release, “We remain in touch with his family members, other relevant persons and institutions, and receive regular updates through them on the situation.
“The Abia State Government is confident that the judiciary will ensure a free and manifestly fair trial for him and others, as they remain innocent until proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction”, it stated.
It further called on all citizens and visitors to continue to be law-abiding and avoid any acts that might lead to a breakdown of law and order.
Also, amid insistence by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to shut down the entire southeast region with the sit-at-home directive despite several warnings by the Nigeria security agencies, NEWSMEN gathered that there was a partial movement of vehicles as occupants mostly civil servants were seen driving to their various offices.
Our correspondent had toured the state to access the level of compliance of the sit-at-home order by the residents of Abia, on Monday.
A visit to the popular Secretariate at Ogurube layout housing state government ministries in Umuahia saw the massive presence of state civil servants carrying out their responsibilities to avoid the state government’s threat to sanction any worker who observes the sit at home order by IPOB.
Private and public school pupils and students were seen returning homes in compliance with the sit-at-home order.
In a chat with our correspondent, Chukwunyere Uche Ugele who did not want his ministry disclosed, expressed fears on the manner the federal government was handling the treasonable felony charges against the separatist organization and its overall powerful leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
He urged the government to deeply look into the IPOB’s demands to douse the already heightened tensions in the country, particularly in the southeast zone.
He further warned the Nigerian government to be fair in its persecution of Kanu as it would not augur well to the country if they toe contrary against the laws of the land.
Ugele regretted the confusion trailing the sit-at-home directive and stressed the essential need by the Nnamdi Kanu’s family and the leadership of the Indigenous People of Biafra to close ranks to ensure unconditional release of the pro-Biafran agitator.
Also, a visit to the ever-busy Aba road, Akanu Ibiam/Bank road, Umuwaya road, Azikwe road in Umuahia, saw total compliance to the sit-at-home order by residents of the areas.
Many residents were indoors, commercial motorists avoided their daily conveyance of traders as normally seen while all commercial banks situated in Aba road Umuahia were under lock and key in compliance with the IPOB directive for fear of adverse consequences of violating the directive.
Nwankwo Ugonna, who described himself as a commercial motorist, in an interview regretted the tension in the entire southeast caused by the rearrest of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, calling on the federal government to see reasons with the legitimate demands of IPOB and other pro-Biafran groups in the southeast zone and beyond.
He lamented that the people of the Igbo nation. particularly have suffered severe injustices and inequalities occasioned by the bad leaderships of successive administrations in Nigeria.
Ugonna aligned with the demands of the pro-Biafran group for separation as he equally regretted that the present Nigerian system has collapsed due to the long-aged marginalization of the Igbo race and other ethnic nationalities in the country.
He further attributed the confusion that trailed the IPOB order between the Nnamdi Kanu’s family and the leadership of the successionist organization, positing that the counter directive by Kanu’s brother was politically sponsored to cause disarray among the people of the southeast region.
A similar visit to Aba, the commercial hub centre of Abia State, where the detained IPOB leader has large followers by DAILY POST saw complete compliance with the sit-at-home order by the residents of the city.
Commercial banks, motorists, traders, school pupils, students, etc adhered to the order.
Private and public owned schools shut down their academic activities for fear of attack following the threat by the IPOB to deal decisively with any institution that flouts its directive.
Popular Aba markets such as Eziukwu Markets, Ariaria International Market Ahia Ohuru were locked up by the leadership of the Market Unions, as it was further gathered that these major markets are populated by members and supporters of Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB.
Azikiwe Road, Aba-Owerri road, Brass, Milverton Avenue etc were equally deserted by motorists, and street traders usually seen on that axis were not there in adherence to the sit at home order.
In an interview with NEWSMEN, a resident of Aba city, Cosmos Chinaza urged the government to toe the path of law in the handling of the IPOB agitation, saying anything outside the provisions of the law as regards the fundamental rights of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu will not be acceptable.
He insisted that the detained successionist leader was toeing the path of law in his legitimate demands until his rearrest, advising Buhari led government to withdraw the treason charges preferred against Kanu and ensure his unconditional release.