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Feminist demands end to sit-at-home in southeast  

By Bertram Nwannekanma
23 February 2022   |   2:38 am
Nigerian Feminist Forum (NFF) has demanded an end to sit-at-home in the southeastern states in Nigeria, saying it has crippled businesses and livelihoods.

One of the deserted streets in the southeastern states

Petition garners 1400 signatories

Nigerian Feminist Forum (NFF) has demanded an end to sit-at-home in the southeastern states in Nigeria, saying it has crippled businesses and livelihoods.

The group in a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari, southeast Governors, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Igbo world leaders, and security agencies, urged them to act and address the lingering issue and save lives and businesses in the region.

Already, the petition to alert enforcers of sit-at-home in the southeast states to desist and allow the economy to thrive, has garnered 1, 300 signatories against an expected 1,500.

According to the forum, since the re-arrest of the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, there have been sit-at-home directives to protest the action.

Though it has been suspended, the forum said, the order is still obeyed and is crippling businesses and increasing violence.

“Despite the suspension of the Monday sit-at-home, yet-to-be-identified gunmen still abduct, kill, and behead people to scare others to comply with the sit-at-home order, which is gradually crippling businesses in the region.

“Safe for state capitals in the five southeast states (Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo), people still stay indoors to comply with the suspended sit-at-home even as some banks and schools have resorted to Saturday as an official working day.

“Though state governments and security agencies have given several reassurances of safety, people in the southeast (outside state capitals) are scared of attacks on Monday and out of fear comply with the suspended sit-at-home order.

“Only last year, students of Nkume Comprehensive Secondary School, Njaba Local Council of Imo State were disrupted while writing their English language examination during the 2021 West African Examinations Council (WAEC), because of the sit-at-home order issued by IPOB.”

NFF further noted that business owners like Madam Gee,  who owns a pub in Owerri, capital  city of Imo State (a place where she sells beer and other drinks, alongside food which is consumed at the premises), and Amina, who owns a restaurant outlet on the busy Enugu Expressway, where road travellers stop to eat and use the restroom are almost folding up as a result of incessant lockdowns.

Still recovering from the effects of COVID-19, the sit-at-home order, the forum said has led to increased gender-based violence as women are compelled to stay indoors even in the face of toxic partners and environments, increase in sexual violence, anxiety, sadness, and boredom, unsafe spaces as people fear for their safety, high inflation of goods and services and increased job loss, especially for women and girls.

They also said it has led to collapse of businesses owned by women and restriction of access to education and school during lockdown.