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Sit-at-home: S-East leaders vow to deal with Simon Ekpa, IPOB

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Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi and Imo State governments yesterday, vowed not to yield to the antics of non-state actors disrupting governance in the southeast  geo-political zone.

Their reactions followed the threat by the factional leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Simon Ekpa, to impose a two-week sit-at-home in the Southeast, commencing from July 31st to August 14th.

Simon Ekpa’s had on Tuesday declared the sit-at-home will   take place in the following order: Monday, July 31, 2023 to Friday, August 4, 2023, there will be total lockdown in Biafraland;

“Saturday, August 5, 2023 and Sunday, August 6, 2023, all Biafran markets will open  respectively.

“Monday, August 7, 2023 to Friday, August 11, 2023, there will be total lockdown in Biafraland; Saturday, August 12,  2023 and Sunday, August 13,  2023 (Break), all Biafran markets will open; Monday, August 14, 2023, there will be lockdown in Biafraland.

“We hereby call on all market leaders to strictly adhere to this order and treat it with utmost seriousness.”

But responding yesterday, Anambra government said it will never yield to non-state actors.

The state government, through the press secretary to Governor Chukwuma Soludo, Christian Aburime, said Ekpa was a fugitive who should be completely ignored.

Aburime said: “Anambra State under the leadership of Governor Chukwuma Charles Soludo will never yield to non-state actors on this illegal sit-at-home order.

“Simon Ekpa is a fugitive and rabble-rouser who should be completely ignored by the citizens of Anambra and by extension, the entire South East.

“The imposition of  sit-at-home orders by unauthorized individuals or groups is a clear violation of the law and Anambra State will never observe any sit-at-home order by a Simon Ekpa.

“Our markets, schools, businesses, and other social activities will remain open. Anambra State will never be a breeding  ground for anarchy, fear, or lawlessness.”

Also reacting, an official of  Enugu State government who described Simon Ekpa as a villain, a criminal, said nobody will obey him in the state, insisting that the illegal sit-at-home has ended in Enugu.

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The official, who did not want his name in print as he was not one of the spokesmen, however, warned any of Ekpa’s criminal foot soldiers who might want to test the government to have a rethink as they may not live to tell  the story.

“We have ended illegal sit-at-home here in Enugu. That criminal should look for something else to do. He is not working in the interest of Nnamdi Kanu or IPoB. IPoB has denied him several times.

“Please, people should call him what he is, a terrorist, a criminal. He should not be linked with IPoB, he is just a criminal.

“Security operatives will teach any of his co-criminals who may want to test the will of the Government. They have been warned”, he said.

In his reaction, Governor Francis Nwifuru of Ebonyi State declared that there is  nothing like sit- at- home in the state.

The Governor of Ebonyi State stated this while fielding questions from journalists shortly after participating in a meeting of Ohanaeze Ndigbo with Governors , House of Assembly Speakers National Assembly Members and other Leaders from the South East zone at Imo State Governor’s Lodge Asokoro, Abuja.

Governor Nwifuru said what played out a week ago in Ebonyi State was a case of miscreants who attempted to put fear in residents and disrupt businesses.

” I am surprised to hear sit -at home from you because there is nothing like sit- at home in Ebonyi. We never for one day observed sit -at – home and I know you are aware .

” Some people only wanted to know if they can start putting tension on people and we said no, they don’t have such powers, they can’t do that and it didn’t happen.”

The Police in Ebonyi State is yet to make an official statement regarding the declaration of sit- at-home by Simon Ekpa’s led faction of IPOB

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Also yesterday, the former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, called on the governors of the South East region to ensure that the people are not overpowered by miscreants enforcing sit-at-home orders.

Dr. Nwodo who was former Governor of Enugu State said that Simon Ekpa, who continues to declare sit-at-home orders in South East is endangering the lives and properties of the people of the region, adding that there are other ways of putting pressure on the Federal Government to release Nnamdi Kanu, other than the frequent sit-at-home orders.

“Does Simon Ekpa know that some people in South East Nigeria are in hospitals and that medical personnel need to attend to their health needs? He is strangulating our economy by declaring frequent sit-at-home orders.

“I always say that there are other ways to put pressure on the Federal Government to obey court orders and release Nnamdi Kanu. The Governor of Enugu State, Peter Mbah, the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Emmanuel Iwuanyanyu, the Governor of Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, and other stakeholders from South East continue to appeal to the conscience of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu, to release Kanu, so that peace can return to South East.

“There are other ways that do not constitute a danger to the lives and economy of residents and people of South East than what Ekpa is doing. Can he declare sit-at-home in any part of Finland where he is currently residing?

“We must equally put pressure on Governors of South East and the security agencies to guarantee the security of lives and properties of the residents of South East region. We must also cooperate with our governors in ensuring that the few  miscreants who enforce the sit-at-home orders are defeated, ” he said.

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Meantime, the Imo State Police Command yesterday disclosed that the officers of the command are now on top of the situation to tackle the continued sit-at-home order by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, led by Simon Ekpa.

The Command’s State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Henry Okoye, stated this to newsmen in Owerri.

Starting from last week, the state witnessed killings, invasion of local markets, and burning of buses and motorcycles by suspected enforcers of the sit-at-home order.

But according to the  Police, “It is pertinent to state that Imo Police Command is aware of the videos that surfaced last weekend on various social media platforms where unrepentant and subversive criminal syndicates suspected to be members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its armed affiliate Eastern Security Network (ESN).

“They were seen shooting sporadically and attacking residents in Irete and Amakohia with the sole aim of creating apprehension amongst the populace and forcing them to obey an unlawfully imposed sit-at-home order by IPOB/ESN disgruntled elements who are hell-bent on disturbing the socio-economic activities of the masses and bringing untold hardship to the good people of this state.

“The Commissioner of Police assertively states that the Command is on top of the situation. The sit-at-home enforcers sighted along the said axis and other areas in the state were given a hot chase by Police operatives forcing them to flee with various degrees of gunshot injuries. More so, adequate proactive security measures have been emplaced to forestall future occurrences.

“The various stakeholders of Imo State are encouraged to talk to their subjects as Imo Police Command will not hesitate to deal ruthlessly with any subversive criminal syndicate or individual caught enforcing the unlawful sit-at-home order or perpetrating any other form of criminality,” Police said.