- Owerri grounded as hoodlums raze police station, Court
Ahead of the sit-at-home exercise declared for Monday, May 31 by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), activities in the city of Owerri, the Imo State capital, have already been brought to a grinding halt.
By Saturday, May 29, major roads and markets in Owerri, the Imo State capital were clearly deserted.
While Aba road was blocked off by soldiers using a commandeered trailer, the residents of MCC road all had their hearts in their hands, as a detachment of soldiers occupied the St. Francis axis of the road with about two Hilux truckload of soldiers moving into one of the streets for undisclosed reasons.
There was relentless, spontaneous and sporadic shooting of automatic firearms. Members of the neighbourhood were kept on edge for hours as the soldiers conducted what seems like an operation in the neighbourhood.
Wetheral road, Okigwe road, Bank Road, Royce Road, Amakohia, Works Layout, Mbari road, Ikenegbu, and other major areas of the city witnessed a marked reduction in human and vehicular traffic with most shops and business offices shutting down for the day.
From Friday, there had been incidents of panic buying of food materials and daily needs even as prices of commodities spiked.
Most banks were either shut or offering skeletal services with their gates and entry points firmly barricaded.
In the Orlu area, banks were totally shut down as night life and evening businesses in Owerri have all been wound up.
Earlier on Saturday morning around 2am, the Atta Divisional Police Headquarters in the Njaba Council Area of Imo State was torched by hoodlums.
The armed assailants also burnt the Atta Magistrate Court and its High Court, while also vandalizing and cannibalizing the community’s Health Centre.
The traditional ruler of the community, Eze Remigiius Azike, confirmed the incident to newsmen while noting that the hoodlums struck while the community was asleep.
A community leader and businessman, Omeziribe John Agbasi, lamented the sad incident, noting that the attack on the facilities would set the community back.
The community he said, was still struggling to develop and provide its people with modern amenities by bringing government closer to the people.
He regretted that in recent times, there have been similar incidents of security breaches in the community, one of which was the attack on the President-General of the community, whose house was burnt down while his wife was killed.
Police authorities in the state could not confirm the incident as they were yet to get an official brief on the development.
Meanwhile, a pro-Biafra group, Biafra Regional Emancipation Movement (BREM) has lashed out at the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, accusing them of inflicting serious pains on the people of Southeast it was claiming to protect.
The group, which frowned at IPOB’s approach and consistent threats to Ndigbo, accused IPOB of no longer pursuing a struggle for freedom but has degenerated its agitation to terrorism and anarchy, which has led to many deaths.
In a statement issued by the coordinator of the group, Comrade Chile Nwoko, yesterday, the group operating under the Biafra Shadow Government, frowned at the method where Biafrans were ordered with subtle threats to comply with the sit-at-home directives.
The statement read in part: “The Biafra Shadow Government, having looked at the whole scenario conclude that what is happening is no more the struggle for freedom, but an early stage of terror.”
Meanwhile, the Chairman, South East Governors Forum and Governor of Ebonyi state, Chief Dave Umahi, yesterday said there will be free movement in Ebonyi State and entire South East today and tomorrow.
Umahi, in a statewide broadcast described the IPOB’s directive as foolishness and urged the people to go about their normal businesses.
He urged security agencies to massively deploy their men to protect the people and warned that any market or shop that refuses to open on Monday for business in Ebonyi State, the owner will forfeit the shop.
He called on leaders of Biafra Agitators to return home and be with the people like Nelson Mandela, who liberated South Africa, instead of staying overseas to cause problems in the region.
Umahi said: “I have been getting voices from certain agitators that tomorrow, there will be no movement. This is foolishness. If there is no movement in South East, is there no movement in the whole country? What an Ebonyi man will never accept is to go into second slavery under any guise. We know the Biafra we need is to have enough money so that we cleanse up the toga of the slavery that our brothers and sisters subjected us into when we were under what they want us to be under. We need money. If you love Ebonyi State, bring money, come up and put one construction. Let us see your houses and investments in Ebonyi State.
“So, I want to say that there will free movement throughout today, throughout tomorrow and ongoing. I challenge youths, local government Chairmen and politicians, stakeholders, security agencies to ensure that nobody is molested and I have banned any form of procession or gathering till further notice in Ebonyi State.
“On Sunday, I will want people who are of Christian faith to go about their church services and pray for our nation, pray for the souls that have departed both during the war and now that people are being killed. On Monday, markets must be fully operational. Anybody that the store is not opened, will forfeit the store. I ask the security agencies to massively deploy security people to protect Ebonyians everywhere.”