Panic in Imo as IPOB threatens to shut down S/East

•Residents desert Owerri   • Police warn Biafra agitators

Inspite of the assurance by the Imo State police command to neutralise any insurrection by the indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which has threatened to shut down the entire South-East tomorrow, in a protest against the continued detention of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, palpable tension and anxiety have descended on the residents of Owerri.

Nigerian Tribune, who monitored the situation, said  while some residents of the city had resolved to relocate to the villages for fear of the planned protest, many residents now besieged the banks making panic withdrawals, even as activities at the Owerri main market, which situates on the Douglas Road, have since risen to a feverish point with buyers making brisk purchase of food items for storage at home.

The situation, according to the report, was the same in supermarkets and petrol stations where consumables and petroleum products were being purchased in large quantities, as a precautionary measure by the people.

A resident at World Bank Layout, Mr John Amadi, who was seen moving his family to his village in the Isiala Mbano Council Area of the state, told the Nigerian Tribune “my brother I am not prepared to risk the lives of my children, the boys you people call “IPOB” are dangerous and can do anything. My family will be in the village till weekend.,”he added.

At the densely populated Aladimma, World Bank and Egbedea Housing Estates vehicular movement became heavier, as most people had equally commenced hasty movements outside the town in anticipation of the envisaged protest by IPOB.

Report reaching us from Owerri said some pressure groups had thrown their weight behind the threat by IPOB to cripple the South-East in protest against the continued incarceration of their leader, Nnamdi Kanu, and non release of many members of the group who are still languishing in detention. But the police image maker in the state,  Andrew Enwerem (DSP), has assured the people not to panic, saying the police had installed adequate measure to counter any uprising by IPOB  in the state.

Anxiously, the founder of the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign States of Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, has urged Ndigbo to ignore the order of IPOB and go about their normal business.

Uwazuruike, who spoke through his national director of information, Sunday Okereafor, in Owerri, explained that the order by IPOB was selfish and ill-timed, pointing out that such order at the present recession inflicted on Ndigbo by the Nigerian government would only cause more harm than good.

According to him, it was meaningless to ask Ndigbo to stay away from their means of livelihood impromptu without adequate information given to them on such directive.

Chief Uwazuruike pointed that contrary to IPOB’s claim that it had discussed with various Igbo groups before its directive, MASSOB, he noted, was never consulted, stressing that MASSOB would never had consented to such sudden order by IPOB.

Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police in Imo, Mr Taiwo Lakanu, on Wednesday, in Owerri, warned members of  IPOB against breaching public peace.

Lakanu gave the warning while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the “sit at home protest” of IPOB slated for Friday.

The group’s planned protest is over the detention of its leader, Mr Nnamdi Kanu.

The commissioner said  the police would resist any attempt by the group to breach public peace or carry out activities contrary to the law.

According to him, the group had no right to forcefully order members of the public to sit at home or switch off their phones.

“We will arrest and prosecute any IPOB member if any of their actions leads to breach of security and public peace.

“Agitators must find a legal way of making their grievances known to the authorities and not to create panic in the society.

“Police is in charge of any situation in the state, and we are ever ready to ensure a violence-free state,’’ he said.

The commissioner urged members of the public not to entertain any fear over the planned protest, but to go about their lawful businesses.

NAN reported that IPOB, in a recent statement, ordered that those in South-East should sit at home on Friday, in demand of Kanu’s release.