On August 9, 2021, the Indegenious People of Biafra, IPOB, declared every Monday a sit-at-home day, saying its in solidarity for the wrongful detention of its leader, Maria Nnamdi Kanu by the immediate past government led by President Muhammadu Buhari.
They claimed that the former head of state unlawfully arrested him in a foreign country. In a statement by the group’s Media and Public Secretary, Emma Powerful, made available to journalists, the group said, “Nobody should attempt to flout this directive as doing so may come with huge consequences. Anybody flouting this order is taking a grave risk.”
IPOB said their leader should be released immediately.
The group’s statement read in part, “We the global family of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra IPOB wish to announce to all Biafra citizens, friends of Biafra and lovers of Biafra freedom and independence that IPOB leadership has declared every Monday ‘a ghost Monday’.
“This declaration takes effect from Monday, August 9, 2021. From that day Biafra land will be on lockdown every Monday from 6:00am to 6:00pm until our leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu who was unlawfully abuducted in Kenya and illegally detained by the federal government of Nigeria is released.
“We wish to state details of this coming ghost Mondays every week, our people must understand that it was designed to show the world how serious we are towards this fight for Biafra freedom and independence. Everybody must adhere to this clarion call put in place by the leadership of IPOB and it would be good for everyone to know that IPOB will not relent until Biafra is fully achieved, the DSS can go ahead and keep our leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu incommunicado without access to him and we observed that DSS operatives are torturing our leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu to the point of death, that was why they don’t want anybody to see his state of health in the DSS facility,” they said.
Meanwhile the Federal Government came out to give reasons for his arrest, saying that Kanu is facing charges bordering on treasonable felony instituted against him at the court in response to years of campaign.
In August 2022, IPOB said the group had cancelled the sit-at-home order on the advice of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
They said: “The group started the Monday sit-at-home last year, but subsequently cancelled it as advised by our leader, Kanu, due to appeals from elders and traditional rulers in our territory,” the stated.
A year on, the sit-at-home order still continued, this time criminals have hijacked it. It is now being used as act of killing, thuggery, theft, looting and more.
Its still surprising how the governors of southeast states and its leaders are yet to do any meaningful thing to curb these menace.
In the last few years, many prominent people and leaders have been killed by the so called unknown gunmen in the southeast.
City People recalls that Chike Akunyili, the husband of the late boss of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, Dora Akunyili, was murdered by gunmen in Anambra. It is believed that the deceased was murdered by IPOB militants.
Report said that he was shot dead while returning to Enugu from an event to honour his late wife.
His son, Obumneme Akunyili, confirmed the incident to BBC Igbo.
In a report published by Premium Times in October 2021, stated that the Nigerian government says members of the outlawed separatist group, IPOB, have so far attacked 164 police facilities across several states.
The armed separatists killed a 175 security personnel, and a number of high-profile persons between October 2020 and June 2021, according to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, who addressed journalists at his office in Abuja on Friday.
He said, “on October 21, 2020, Nnamdi Kanu through an online call-in radio programme (Radio Biafra), further instigated IPOB members to burn down all police stations and kill government security forces, which was carried out and several security personnel (especially police officers) were killed and public and private properties destroyed.
“One hundred and seventy-five (175) security personnel were killed by IPOB/ESN, comprising one hundred and twenty eight (128) policemen, thirty seven (37) military personnel and ten (10) other security operatives,” Malami said.
Tuesday, July 4, masked gunmen, attacked some residents and traders in Ebonyi State, South-East Nigeria.
In a video circulated on social media, revealed the attackers, numbering about nine, were seen shooting and chasing traders at a market in Isheke, a community in Abakaliki, the state capital.
The gunmen were said to be enforcing the controversial one-week sit-at-home declared by a faction of the outlawed IPOB.
The hoodlums, dressed in red attire and patrolling in a light brown Sienna vehicle, were also seen setting some tricycles ablaze and destroying goods in the market.
“(There is) sit-at-home! Nnamdi Kanu must be released. No Nnamdi Kanu, no peace. You can see that Keke (tricycle) is burning,” a voice, apparently one of the hoodlums, was heard speaking in the background of the video.
“Destroy everything. Burn them. I don’t want anything to remain,” the voice ordered, amidst gunshots by the attackers.
Motorcycle riders and traders in the market were seen scampering for safety, abandoning their motorcycles and wares.
In another clip circulating on various WhatsApp groups, a child apparently abandoned by her mother was seen seated on the ground in another section of the market while the gunmen shot in the air near her.
This incident continued in Enugu and other southeastern states within the week respectively.
In the wake of the incident, Peter Obi, 2023 Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP condemned the sit-at-home by a faction of the IPOB, describing it as a criminal activity causing innocent people to suffer.
Obi, in a series of tweets, called for a more strategic approach to stop the killings in the Southeast, Benue, and Plateau States.
In a report by Vanguard, Obi said that it is unacceptable that hundreds of innocent lives will continue to be wasted in Nigeria needlessly through communal clashes, bandits, and kidnapping activities.
“The rising insecurity in the country leading to mindless bloodletting, particularly in the North Central zone of the country, and the continued disruption of business and social activities in the South East are all becoming very worrisome.
“Also disturbing is the continued disruption of business and social activities in the South East region over the Sit-at-Home directive purported to be coming from the indigenous peoples of Biafra, IPOB, when the body has publicly denied issuing such directive.
“What is going on in the South East therefore is essentially a criminal activity that must be nipped in the bud, with all hands being on deck, security agencies, and the people alike,” he said.
Obi commended Southeast governors for their renewed efforts at restoring peace but said there is a need to be more strategic and intelligence-driven in our approach to “reducing the suffering of innocent people.”
“We as a people through our various governments should up our value for human lives in the way and manner we respond to issues that touch lives,” Obi said.
Veteran Nollywood actress, Rita Edochie said that the federal government should release Nnamdi Kanu and watch the killings in Southeast end.
She said this in a video posted on her Instagram page few days ago, where she ask the government of President Bola Tinubu to release the Kanu and watch the unrest in southeast end.
Meanwhile, Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma has declared that the responsibility of ending the “sit-at-home” order in the Southeast region extends beyond the governors of the respective states.
In a statement published by the Leadership News, the governor satated this on Thursday, July 13, at a meeting with President Bola Tinubu to seek an appointment for Southeast leaders and Ohanaeze Ndigbo to meet the president over worsening insecurity in the region.
The governor said the prolonged sit-at-home directives were detrimental to the nation’s progress.
While acknowledging the challenges faced by the Southeast region,Uzodinma believes that addressing the root causes of insecurity and implementing robust security measures will pave the way for economic growth and national unity.
He said: “The situation in the southeast is not as simple as some people think. There’s no government directive for sit-at-home procedure to either local government directive nor any state nor the zone.
“But the situation is that because of the indiscriminate killing of people and high level of insecurity, our people are so afraid to come out.
“It is perception management that we’re trying to do. So there is too much fear in the people. Otherwise, how can non-state actors give a sit-at-home order and it will be obeyed. People are scared. People are afraid because of what they’ve seen in the past.
“And nobody wants to die. Neither me nor anybody so that is why the federal government needs to come in to step up very high security measures to manage the situation, the sense of security will come back to the citizenry and they will be able to go about their businesses,” he stated.
According to the governor, he does not operate the contentious ‘Security Vote’, but has made a case for state governors to be given more latitude and headroom to tackle security challenges at subnational levels, even with the nation’s federal structure.
Uzodimma stressed that while he has no security vote to draw from even as the ‘Chief Security Officer’ of Imo State, he manages to adopt both kinetic and non-kinetic strategies to deal with security challenges as much as he is able to operate within the law.
Asked about the claim by former Niger Delta militant leader, Asari Dokubo, that his men were helping the federal government to tackle insecurity in the South East, Uzodimma replied that he was not aware of it.
With these facts stated, why has it been difficult for the leaders to call out the people responsible for these acts.
It has been speculated that the elites and leaders in the Southeast have in one way, directly or indirectly used them for political purposes hence, their ability to act.
One of them is the murder of Oyibo Chukwu, the LP candidate for Enugu East Senatorial District, who was assassinated and burnt while returning from a campaign trip.
Addressing newsmen on the unfortunate incident, the Chukwu family represented by two younger brothers of the slain Oyibo Chukwu, said the family was in great shock and tears and was yet to find a way to disclose the death of their son to their aged mother in the village.
“Based on credible intelligence, our worthy son confided in a couple of persons that he was being trailed by members of the Ebeano political group. In fact, in the morning of Wednesday, February 22, 2022, the very day he was killed in the most cowardly manner. He told some persons that he was going to write a petition to the security and intelligence agencies in Enugu State on the plans to eliminate him, so that the agencies could investigate the persons involved and nip their evil plans in the bud.
According to our brother, the threat to his life spiked when he directed his lawyer, Mr Chukwudi Igwe, to file a suit in the Federal High Court in Abuja challenging the legal status of the participation of a former Enugu State governor, Dr Chimaraoke Nnamani, as the PDP candidate in the Enugu East Senatorial Zone since he has been expelled from his party. The Nigerian Constitution provides that only candidates sponsored by political parties can contest in an election.
“Chief Oyibo Chukwu became the assassination target because of the stupendous popularity of the LP in Enugu State in particular and the rest of the country in general, as well as his stellar credentials. Apart from being a political veteran on the national stage, our son, a senior lawyer, led the Nigerian Bar Association in Oji River in its most glorious days from 2017 to 2019.
“His professional colleagues can always testify to his courage, wisdom, tenacity, vision, uncanny organizational skills, and other outstanding leadership attributes,” the family stated.
In October 2021, a report published by Sahara Reporters, stated that a group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has stated that some governors and the Nigerian Government’s officials may be behind the killings and security challenges ravaging the South-East region.
HURIWA alleged that political and public office holders responsible for the killings were making efforts to undermine the agitations of IPOB in the South-East.
The rights group made these statements while urging the Nigerian Army to respect human rights in the South-East region.
HURIWA asked the Nigerian Army to probe the killings in the South-East because some officials of the Nigerian Government might be responsible for insecurity in the Southeast.
In a statement by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA said the Nigerian Army must work with the mindset that members of IPOB might not be responsible for the killings in the region.
HURIWA said: “Following report that the Nigerian Army has launched multiple military exercises covering the South-East region of Nigeria aimed at checking the excessive cases of attacks targeting strategic national security institutions, personnel and the killing of civilians by unknown gunmen, the military high command should abide by rules of engagement, respect for Human Rights of civilians and adherence to the principles of the rule of law.
“The Nigerian Army should not work under a bandwagon conspiratorial plots that the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra carry out the attacks and killings but the army must be open-minded, look inwards and investigate the possibility that these attacks may have been masterminded by federal government officials and some governors of the South-East of Nigeria who may want to undermine the public acceptance and popularity of the agitation for self-determination as canvassed by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra.
“In the past few months, many Igbo youths have been killed, arrested, incarcerated and tortured by the security forces under the guise that all Igbo youths are members of IPOB,” the group stated.
By Benprince Ezeh