Panic as firing gunmen enforce sit-at-home in Asaba
There was palpable fear in some parts of Asaba, the Delta State capital, yesterday, following reports that hoodlums would enforce the previously suspended sit-at-home order on Mondays, declared by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) in protest against incarceration of its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
Earlier in the morning, unknown, in a bid to enforce the order, invaded Asaba, shooting sporadically in the Bonsaac area, off the Asaba-Onitsha expressway, thereby creating apprehension in the state capital as news of the incident spread.
Many institutions of learning in the area hurriedly closed, with some students already turned back and those already on their way to school retuning home. The confusion persisted until mid-morning.
Schools in communities outside the capital city, but close to Onitsha, such as Okwe, Oko, Akwuebulu, Oduke and even Cable Point in Asaba were shut.
Even the expressway was devoid of the usual traffic, with motorists and commuters staying off the road, especially towards Onitsha.
Many shops and business premises in the area did not to open for fear of being attacked and their wares looted.
A trader told The Guardian that it was better not to open and remain on the safe side, because “if anything happens, you are on your own, as the something bad could have happened before the police or anybody could intervene. I decided not to open, but be around and monitor things.”
Another dealer in wooden materials in the nearby plank market, who gave his name simply as Chibuike, said: “What the government is doing to Kanu is not good. They should release him.”
At the usually busy Traffic Light Roundabout, business activities were partial, as some shops, especially those owned by the Igbo, were closed, either out of fear or solidarity.
When contacted, spokesman for the state Police Command, Mr. Bright Edafe, said the Command had drafted personnel to all nook and cranny of state, especially Asaba, to provide security to the people.
Ogbe-Ogonogo Market was paralysed in the early hours of the day, as traders stayed away from their shops, unlike in the early morning when parents who had earlier dropped off their children in schools, hurriedly withdrew them to avoid an unforeseen circumstances.
The Guardian observed that most of the shops were not open for business until noon, with traders milling around and observing the situation. Normal activities returned after noon, as more shops and offices opened for business in the affected areas.
Some of them said they were apprehensive following threat by some hoodlums that the sit-at-home should extend to Asaba.
In most other neighbouring communities, including Okpanam and Ibusa, it was business as usual. When contacted, spokesman for the state Police Command, Mr. Bright Edafe, said the Command had drafted personnel to all nook and cranny of state, especially Asaba, to provide security to the people.
He said he was not aware of any gunshots, but that there was shooting of fire crackers in some areas. He advised residents to go about their normal businesses and activities and disregard the order, now or in future, saying the police were in total control of the situation.