For four successive Mondays, from August 9, 2021, residents of South East would lock themselves inside their homes. There would be no movement of persons. Both private and public offices would be locked up, markets would be deserted, and there would be no vehicular movement. Everybody would be indoor, not venturing to go outside.

This followed the sit-at-home order issued to residents of the area by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) over the arrest and detention of their Leader, Nnamdi Kanu. The IPOB said that every Monday would be sit-at-home in the South East until their leader was released.

The first day it started, Monday August 9, in spite of threats by some state Governors

that they would deal ruthlessly with anybody who complied with the order, or who tried to enforce the sit-at-home directive, there was total compliance with the IPOB order. Nobody was seen outside, and all the roads were deserted.

The next Monday, August 16, there were conflicting directives by some leaders of the group. While IPOB spokesman, Emma Powerful, said the sit-at-home order would continue, Nnamdi Kanu’s younger brother, Kalunta, announced the suspension of the order. Powerful again came to counter him, insisting that the sit-at-home must continue. Many people were confused, but in order to thread on the path of caution, they decided to stay off the road.

On the eve of the following Monday, August 23, perhaps, harkening to the voice of reason, the IPOB, through Emma Powerful, announced the suspension of the sit-at-home order, stating that it would now take place only on the day Nnamdi Kanu would be taken to court.

Powerful however cautioned that some security operatives would be impersonating the IPOB, and in the process, would be harassing innocent people. This instilled fear on the citizenry, and everybody stayed off the road.

Even though the IPOB had announced the suspension of Mondays sit-at-home order yet, not many believed the story. This had resulted to residents of the South East still remaining indoors on Monday August 30. Roads were deserted, public and private offices locked, and all markets closed.

Not even the threats by Ebonyi State Governor and Chairman South East Governors Forum, Dave Umahi, that the South East Governors were angry about the sit-at-home order, and that he would confiscate any market stall not opened on Monday, August 30, and sack all civil servants in the state who failed to come to work on that day, made any difference.

The Ebonyi Governor had complained that the sit-at-home order by the IPOB, if not stopped, would cripple economic development and pursue investors from the South East, and warned that he would order the immediate confiscation of shops owned by traders which were not opened for businesses on Monday, August 30, and sack all civil servants who failed to come to work on that day, but nobody listened to him. He was largely ignored. Everybody kept off the road.

We are still waiting for the Governor to put his words into action.

As things currently stand, the South East zone is in trouble. The IPOB sit-at-home directive has become an albatross. Every Monday has become an unsolicited holiday. Most residents of the zone do not believe that the sit-at-home order was actually suspended, due to earlier conflicting directives by the group.

Unfortunately, some miscreants have seized the opportunity to perpetrate crimes in the zone. For instance, it was reported on Monday that in Nsukka area of Enugu State, masquerades were used to enforce the sit-at-home order.

According to the report, masquerades paraded the streets of Nsukka town, to deter people from going about their businesses, and threatened that anyone caught going out would be flogged.

Also in Imo State, security agents at Umuonyewere, Umuowa in Ngor Okpala Local Government Area, reportedly killed three hoodlums who were purportedly enforcing the sit-at-home directive, while another set of hoodlums burnt a newspaper distribution car, after trying to extort N100,000 from the driver in Awo Omamma, Oru East Local Government Area.

These were not isolated cases, but represented the general situation in most parts of the South East as far as Mondays sit-at-home order is concerned.

In other words, South East residents will always comply with the Mondays sit-at-home directive by the IPOB, because most people are skeptical about its suspension, and they also fear about being attacked by miscreants. They equally do not trust Nigerian security personnel for their protection, while threats by some state governors do not make any meaning to them as far as their own security is concerned.

Unfortunately, the IPOB does not seem to have any succession plan. The only person members of the group know is Nnamdi Kanu. Now that the man is in incarceration, there appears to be a power vacuum, particularly following the disowning of Simon Ekpa, who was earlier reported to have succeeded Nnamdi Kanu.

As things currently stand, perhaps, the only voice the people will listen to is that of Nnamdi Kanu. Should he come on air to announce the suspension of the sit-at-home order, the people would harken to his voice. But he would not talk because they have declared him a terrorist, an outlaw, and locked him up in DSS cell. He is to be avoided like a plague, which is unfortunate!

Dr. Dons Eze, KSJI

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