Enugu residents have found themselves in dilemma over Gov Peter Mbah’s cancellation of Monday sit-at-home in the state. This followed a counter directive and declaration of ‘war’ by self-styled leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Simon Ekpa, against obeying Mbah’s order.
Mbah had said the sit-at-home order was counter-productive and destroying the ingenuity of the people of the state. Ekpa, on his part, warned residents of the state not to heed to Mbah’s warning, vowing a showdown with security agencies in the state.
Ekpa, in a viral video, specifically warned traders of Ogbete Main Market, Enugu, not to open for businesses today or face the consequences. He further accused Mbah of forging his NYSC certificate, adding that he ought not to claim to be a governor.
Mbah had on Thursday declared an end to the Monday sit-at-home in the state. Sit-at-home was declared in the South-East states of Nigeria since 2021 by the Indigenous People of Biafra to pressure the release of its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, who is currently being detained at the custody of the Department of State Services in Abuja over alleged running a proscribed group, jumping bail and treason.
Quoting Mbah, “The idea behind sitting at home on Monday, the first working and business day of the week, is abominable and antithetical to greatness and the spirit of industry we profess to have inherited from our forebears. This cannot be us. Tufiakwa (God forbid). It does colossal damage to us.
“For us to transit from a public service economy to a private sector-driven one, we must free our markets from the shackles of restriction to commerce. If indeed we aspire and anticipate an influx of private sector practitioners and investors in Enugu State, we must know that this will not happen where the perception of us is that of unproductive people.
“To this end, therefore, from Monday June 6, 2023, there will be no observance of any sit-at-home in all nooks and crannies of Enugu State. Government will enforce this with all the powers at its disposal. My charge to all of you – market men and women, the corporate world, industries, schools, civil servants, and all strata of workers in Enugu State — is for us to take back our sense of industry, pride of place and re-enact our glorious past.”
Meanwhile, the state police command said it had deployed its resources to counter any criminal activities in the state as a result of the cancellation of the sit-at-home.
Its public relations officer, DSP Daniel Ndukwe, stated this in a release. According to him, the state police commissioner, CP Ahmed Ammani, has ordered area commanders, divisional police officers, commanders of PMF Squadron Bases, other tactical and operational units of the command to deploy personnel and intelligence resources at their disposal to actualize the declaration by the state government.
In his words, “CP Ammani notes that innocent and law-abiding citizens of the state deserve to go about their lawful businesses without fear of harassment or physical threats by criminal elements enforcing the illegal sit-at-home order.
“He tasked the personnel to ensure that every part of the state is visibly patrolled and necessary policing actions taken to forestall possible adverse activities of the undesirable criminal elements.”
THE WHISTLER reports that IPOB had earlier cancelled sit-at-home on Mondays, but the prevalence of crimes on Mondays forced residents of South East to shun business activities on Mondays.
Meanwhile, heads of government agencies in the state have directed their staff members to resume work today.
A trader at Ogige Nsukka, Chizoba Eze, told our correspondent that the state government’s approach was wrong. In his words, “We have already started doing businesses on Mondays. Even private schools are gradually operating. He wouldn’t have made it official. Now he has made the state the focus of IPOB.
“People are angry since after the election, and compounded by the recent fuel price hike. So, we are afraid that frustration might spark activities of miscreants. It is difficult to provide security at rural areas. I have not seen security operatives in my area this morning, so how can safety of rural dwellers be guaranteed?”
A parent, Ben Ozioko, said, “I won’t take my children to school today. But if it works well, by next week, they will attend on Monday. I won’t experiment with my kids. The governor wouldn’t have made it so pronounced.”