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Anxiety as Monday sit-at-home continues in Southeast

South east map

Less than a week after Southeast governors and leaders resolved to end the Monday sit-at-home by the Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB), residents of the zone yesterday continued to stay indoors out of fear.

Yesterday’s sit-at-home dubbed ‘Ghost Monday’ was the 9th since it began on August 9.

Many streets and markets were deserted in Enugu, Anambra, Imo, and Abia.

But, Christian clerics in the Southeast, who expressed worry over the “blood and a gloomy cloud”, said they were ready to engage IPOB and other secessionist groups in Igboland in dialogue.

They sought amnesty for the agitators, urging “the political leaders of the Southeast to ensure safety in the region by investing in security”.

The Southeast governors and leaders had resolved last week to do everything within the law to ensure that there was no sit-at-home in the zone. They advised that people should be allowed to move freely.

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The meeting also accused Igbos in the Diaspora of issuing the sit-at-home, adding that they did that because they were not feeling the pains of the people at home.

In Enugu, banks, shops, parks, and fuel stations were under lock and key. Some markets and government offices were open, but there was no life in them.

Only few private vehicles and tricycles, popularly known as Keke, were seen on the roads. There were no inter-state movements as transport operators did not operate.

In Awka, capital of Anambra State, traders scampered for safety as gunshots boomed at the popular Eke-Awka Market during the sit-at-home

The shootings forced the traders  and shops at  adjoining streets to abruptly close to avoid being harmed.

The Nation however, gathered that the gunshots were released by a Police team on patrol.

The  Police Command  Public Relations Officer,  Ikenga Tochukwu, confirmed the incident, saying that a man who allegedly attacked the patrol team was arrested.

In Onitsha and Nnewi, banks, markets, and shops were also locked.

The situation was the same in Imo State. Although, some workers, who braced the situation, said they met their offices empty.

A staff of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), Anchor Ogbonnaya, said “I took a serious risk. I did not see a single soul along the ever-busy Port Harcourt-Owerri Road. When I got to the school, the situation was worse because nobody reported for work.”

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However, some government programmes went on as scheduled. Governor Hope Uzodimma attended a function in Owerri, but not without a heavy security presence.

Aba, the boisterous city in Abia State, was without its usual traffic gridlock yesterday.

When The Nation reporter visited some parts of the city, including the busy Ariaria International Market, only a few persons were seen.

It was gathered that some traders had to lodge their customers from other parts of the country and Africa countries in hotels ahead of the reopening of businesses today.

Commercial banks operating in the city continued to avoid hanging the nation’s flag on their premises.

Bishops seek amnesty for IPOB, others

Christian leaders in the Southeast expressed concern over the violence in the zone.

They promised, in a statement, to engage the agitators in dialogue to stop the “gloomy cloud” in the region.

According to the, the Federal Government must realise that the best instruments to end separatist agitations were equity, justice, and fairness.

The statement was jointly signed by the Catholic Archbishop of Owerri, Most Rev. Anthony Obinna; Anglican Archbishop of Enugu, Most Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma; the Methodist Archbishop of Umuahia, Most Rev. Chibuzo Opoko and the Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha, Most Rev. Valerian Okeke.

Others include were the  Past Principal Clerk, Presbyterian Church of Nigeria, Most Rev  Uma Onwunta; Bishop Obi Onubogu of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria ( CAN), Southeast Zone, Rev.Father  Abraham Nwali.

It partly reads: ‘’Our land is soaked with blood and a gloomy cloud hangs in the air. This cannot be allowed to go on.

“As religious leaders of this badly battered zone, we appeal to all those responsible for the killings to please stop, before the entire Southeast descends into anarchy, which will invariably affect the other parts of the country.

“Our political leaders must do something to reduce the huge gulf between their personal welfare and that of the people at large.

“We, therefore, call on the Federal Government to consider granting amnesty to IPOB and other separatist groups.

“We believe that the de-criminalisation and description of these groups would lead them to embrace the democratic and non-violent means of negotiation, thus opening the path of dialogue on the future of Nigeria.

“We also urge those who are still preventing people from going about their legitimate businesses by enforcing a sit-at-home order, for which no group now claims responsibility, to desist from doing so.

“In the same vein, we enjoin all our sons and daughters, especially those in the diaspora, to make responsible use of social media.” Nation

 

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