A First Republic minister and elder statesman, Chief Mbazulike Amechi, on Monday lamented that the actions of the leaders of Indigenous People of Biafra were endangering ongoing discussions and negotiation on the release of Nnamdi Kanu and the Igbo question.
This came as masked men suspected to be members of IPOB, who were allegedly enforcing the sit-at-home, attacked traders at Obollo-Afor town in the Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State for disobeying the order on Monday.
Amechi, who led Igbo leaders to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in November 2021 to demand unconditional release of the IPOB leader, Kanu, told The Punch in an exclusive interview that he had informed the IPOB leader’s lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, that the sit-at-home was destroying the South-East economy and also hampering discussions on Kanu and the Igbo question in Nigeria.
Kanu has been in the detention facility of the Department of State Services since June 19, 2021 and is currently standing trial for treasonable felony.
Amechi said, “What happened is that I discussed with the Presidency and Mr President himself on two subjects – the Igbo situation in Nigeria and Nnamdi Kanu. And our discussion was very good and friendly, but the sit-at-home order that IPOB is dishing out in the South-East is embarrassing the whole thing.
“I don’t know the leaders of IPOB and who they are; Kanu is in detention and the Presidency arranged for me to go and see him and we discussed. So, I just told the lawyer that he is in a better position to contact them to stop the sit-at-home. I told him that it is too much and is ruining the economy of the South-East, but he told me that they had already issued a statement that IPOB had never said that.
“They must stop their actions, which make the release of their leader more difficult. If they don’t, I will withdraw my own efforts.”
The hoodlums were said to have flogged traders at Obollo-Afor and destroyed their wares.
An eyewitness told our correspondent that the hoodlums came into the commercial town on motorcycles around 8am and dispersed the traders, who had opened their shops for business.
Another eyewitness, Chijioke Ogbodo, said the hoodlums set ablaze a tricycle after allowing the passengers to disembark and pushing away the rider.
“They equally destroyed a Sienna vehicle belonging to the Udenu Central Neighbourhood Watch during the attack,” Ogbodo stated.
A village source told one of our correspondents that the hoodlums destroyed the vehicle when members of the Udenu Central Neighbourhood Watch saw them and took to their heels.
Although a team of military personnel manning a checkpoint at Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi’s home town along the road arrived at the town around 8.30am to restore normalcy, a trader regretted that despite the assurances of security agencies and the government that people should come out for business, the hoodlums still visited terror on the residents.
Meanwhile, in places Agbani and the state capital, residents deserted the roads and streets for fear of attack.
No market, school, public or private offices, banks, shops and parks was opened on Monday.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Daniel Ndukwe, did not take his calls when contacted on the attack.
Despite last week’s statement by the Indigenous People of Biafra that it had cancelled Mondays’ sit-at-home in the South-East, commercial activities were grounded in Anambra State on Monday.
Following last Monday’s attacks in some parts of Enugu and Anambra states by hoodlums suspected to be enforcing the order, IPOB issued a statement that it had cancelled the sit-at-home.
The group also urged governors in the region to arrest anyone seen to be enforcing the order, because such people were not members of IPOB.
It, however, issued a statement declaring a sit-at-home today (Tuesday) in solidarity with its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, whose case against the Federal Government comes up in an Umuahia Court on January 18, 19 and 20.
But despite repeated assurances by IPOB that people were free to go about their normal business on Monday, residents stayed indoors.
One of our correspondents, who went round major cities such as Onitsha, Nnewi, Oba and Awka, observed that markets, schools, motor parks and banks were shut.
People were seen clearing their drainages, while some gathered in groups drinking.
Major roads and streets were totally deserted as vehicles avoided them. There were also reports of skeletal activities at the state secretariat, Akwa.
The Onitsha Bridge head, which recorded heavy traffic on Sunday, was deserted on Monday.
A government official, who did not want his name mentioned for fear of being attacked, blamed IPOB for subjecting the people to stress.
He said, “Please, don’t quote me oh so that they won’t come and burn my house. They said the government should arrest anyone enforcing the sit-at-home order, but they know themselves; they know those carrying out these nefarious activities; let them come out from their hiding and initiate the process of arresting those who are doing it. They know themselves.
“When they started, they said it was the Fulani who were attacking them, but now, they are saying a different thing. Let them first arrest their members causing havoc here and there.”