HOW TO END SIT-AT-HOME IN SOUTH EAST, BY CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF
The Chief of Army Staff, Taoreed Lagbaja, says collaborative efforts among leaders of the South-east will be significant in ending the illegal sit-at-home order in the region often enforced by a faction of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
IPOB is a group leading the agitation for an independent state of Biafra which it wants carved out from the south-east and some parts of South-south Nigeria.
Mr Lagbaja, a lieutenant-general, disclosed this on Wednesday during an operational visit to 14 Brigade of the Nigerian Army at the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Barracks in Ohafia, Abia State, according to a statement by Army spokesperson, Onyema Nwachukwu, a major-general.
The army chief reiterated that the involvement of everyone in the region will restore the region to normalcy, where socio-economic activities will blossom again.
At the army barracks, Mr Lagbaja charged troops of the Nigerian army in the area to ensure that peace returns to the troubled parts of the South-east, stressing that the task must be done to restore public confidence for Nigerians to go about their normal businesses without fear or intimidation.
Mr Lagbaja further urged the troops to remain resolute in the conduct of their operational tasks and loyal to President Bola Tinubu and as well as the Nigerian Constitution.
He told the troops that they must adhere to extant rules of engagement, respect the fundamental human rights of Nigerians and above all conduct themselves professionally in line with global best practices, noting that the Nigerian government has supported the army tremendously.
Mr Lagbaja thanked the Abia State Government for the “tremendous support” that the Nigerian army has been receiving in the state and reassured that under his watch the army will continue to support the state government and residents of the state to fight insecurity.
Responding, Governor Alex Otti of Abia State expressed gratitude to the troops for their efforts in fighting insecurity in the state in conjunction with other security agencies.
Mr Otti noted that their efforts have translated positively to the reduction of insurgency in the state and entire south-east Nigeria.
The governor expressed satisfaction with the introduction of Operation Crush in the state by the army, pointing out that all identified flash points have been relatively calm.
IPOB, in August 2021, introduced a sit-at-home order every Monday across the South-east to pressure the Nigerian government to release its detained leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who is facing terrorism charges at a Federal High Court in Abuja.
The separatist group later suspended the order, in preference for it to be implemented only on days Mr Kanu appears in court.
But despite its suspension, residents of the five South-east states – Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo, Abia and Anambra — have been observing the Monday sit-at-home order, mostly out of fear.
IPOB had repeatedly disowned the Monday sit-at-home across the region, saying those who still enforce the order were criminals attempting to blackmail the separatist group.
A leader of Autopilot, a faction of the IPOB, Simon Ekpa, has continued to declare the sit-at-home in the region, despite being suspended by the IPOB faction led by Mr Kanu.
Nnamdi Kanu, the IPOB leader, had in late July 2023, through Aloy Ejimakor, his special counsel, ordered Mr Ekpa to stop issuing sit-at-home orders in the region.
However, Mr Ekpa described the letter as “fake,” and e illegal action would go on until Mr Kanu speaks to him directly in Finland, a North European country, where he (Ekpa) resides.Also, several leaders of the South-east such as Governor Charles Soludo of Anambra State and his Enugu State counterpart, Peter Mbah, have made separate efforts to stop the sit-at-home order, but the illegal order has continued in the region.