Ahead of the sit-at-home protest by the Indigenous People of Biafra, which will commence on Monday, groups, under the aegis of the South-East Coalition of Civil Society Organisations, have asked the secessionists to perish the thought.
SECSOs President, Dr Livinus Onwuteaka, in a statement in Awka, the Anambra State capital, on Friday, described IPOB’s directive as a pain for the people of the area.
IPOB had ordered “every Monday sit-at-home protest” in the area to prevail on the Federal Government to release its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who was rearrested in June after he jumped bail in 2017 on charges of treasonable felony.
But SECSOs, in the statement, said IPOB’s directive was counterproductive, stating that the people of the South-East would suffer more under the circumstances.
The group’s statement read in part, “We’ve received reports claiming that the Indigenous People of Biafra has directed the people of the South-East to observe every Monday, with effect from next week, as a work-free day till its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, is released from detention.
“Persons who fail to comply strictly with the directive, according to the reports, will face severe consequences. We have waited for the IPOB leadership to respond to the reports to ascertain their accuracy, but it has yet to do so.
“It is difficult for the people of the South-East, nay Nigeria, to process the essence of the directive. They are not the ones who arrested Nnamdi Kanu, nor is he in their custody. Why should they be punished?
“There are millions of people in the South-East, as in other parts of the country, who barely eke out an existence. They include painters, bricklayers, electricians, bus conductors, commercial drivers, palm wine tappers and market women who deal in akara, fried yam, potato and plantain, to say nothing about millions of young men and women who are unemployed or underemployed.
“To ask this category of people, who are still smarting from the effects of the COVID-19 lockdowns, to stay indoors for a whole day every week is inconsiderate.
“Even Nigerians with fairly well-paying jobs are managing to live. The national economy is rough. Inflation, for one, is at an all-time high. These are really times which try men’s souls.
“What is more, the purported directive will end up stifling businesses in the South-East which already has more than its fair share of national problems. It will make the South-East less competitive, forcing existing businesses here to leave.”
The group urged the South-East people to ignore the sit-at-home directive.
Also reacting, the Commissioner of Police in Abia State, Mrs Janet Agbede, vowed that the police would subdue any group of hoodlums who attempted to disrupt the peace in the state.
She assured the residents of the state that her office, in collaboration with other security agencies, were working hard to ensure that they went about their business without fear of harassment or intimidation.
Agbede contended that the planned restriction of movement would negatively impact the majority of residents who depend on their daily income to survive, adding that it was an infringement on their fundamental human rights.
She said, “There are rumours circulating in the state that members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra have resolved to commence a sit-at-home every Monday with effect from Monday, August 9, 2021.
“The story has it that they have arranged to use their militant arm, the Eastern Security Network, to force compliance. We’re aware that the majority of the citizens depend on daily income for their survival.
“The sit-at-home will negatively impact the economy of the state and individual pockets.”
The CP, therefore, advised parents and guardians to warn their children and wards against participating in any act, including social media activities, capable of instigating a breach of the peace in the state. She assured the residents of the state that her office, in collaboration with other security agencies, was working hard to ensure that they went about their business without fear of harassment or intimidation. PUNCH