STREETS across Anambra State have remained deserted today as local residents comply with the sit-at-home order issued by secessionist group the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob) to protest the arrest of its leader Nnamdi Kanu.
In June, Mr Kanu was abducted by Nigerian security agents in Kenya and flown to Nigeria where he was facing treason charges. Since his capture, Mr Kanu has been held by the Nigerian State Security Service (SSS) and Britain, has asked for assurances that his civil liberties as he holds a British passport.
Civil society groups have also been pressing the Nigerian government to guarantee that Mr Kanu will get a fair and open trial. Protesting the nature in which their leader was abducted, Ipob called on all Igbos across the southeast geo-political zone to sit at home today and despite threats from several governors, it appears the order has been heeded.
In major and minor cities across Anambra State like Awka, Onitsha, Nnewi and Ekwulobia, there was a total shut down in compliance with the directive. There had been confusion yesterday as to whether the exercise would hold or not after a counter-directive was issued by Mr Kanu’s brother who said the exercise had been called off to allow students sitting for the Neco examination to do so.
However, Ipob spokesperson Emma Powerful, quickly refuted the claim, saying the order was sacrosanct. This morning, banks, schools, markets, shops, eateries and other businesses across Anambra State were deserted and motor parks were also empty as motorists and passengers alike stayed away.
Even though markets were open, traders refused to resume business. Last week, the Anambra State government had threatened to withhold the August salaries of workers who failed to resume duty today and at the secretariat complex, most workers came to work because of the order but they left almost immediately after signing the attendance register.
In Nnewi, two persons were killed very early in the morning at Izuchukwu junction for daring to come out but their identities and those of their attackers are yet to be revealed. Across the city, police patrol vehicles were on every major street, with policemen in their vehicles, providing protection for the few people that were courageous enough to leave their houses.
One market leader at Eke Awka Market, said: “The leadership of the market did its best by opening the market but traders refused to come. You can see that some of the traders opened but there are no customers. I think it is rather out of fear that people did not come to the market and not because they want to comply with the Ipob directive.”