Despite the directive by the Abia State government to Abia residents to ignore the sit-at-home order by the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB), the capital city of Umuahia and nearby communities became ghost towns on Tuesday.
Abia State government had on Monday in a press release, threatened heavy sanctions to any transport union, market leader and financial institution who refused to open for business in obedience to instructions by ‘non-state actors’.
The release, signed by the Commissioner for information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu warned that the future of Abia students who are currently sitting for West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) should not be tampered with, through irrational orders.
But a tour across the streets of Umuahia and other neighboring town like Umudike, Bende, Uzuakoli, Oboro and other places showed that the sit-at-home order recorded high level of compliance, with markets, shops, government offices, banks, schools and motor parks all affected.
It was not however, established whether the high level compliance by residents stemmed from fear of violence or solidarity to the IPOB agitations.
Human and vehicular movements were near-zero as most residents out of fear or obedience, refused to come out of their homes, preferring to wait till Wednesday. All banks in Umuahia, Umudike and Akara were all shut while all motor parks looked like football pitches.
Bank customers who wanted to use Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in Umuahia were disappointed as the machines did not dispense of cash, forcing the customers to patronize a few road-side Point of Sale (PoS) agents for cash transactions.
At Umuahia North LGA headquarters, a few staff who came to work could not gain entrance to office as the gate to the council secretariat remained locked throughout the day, even as Abia State government secretariat also functioned with few staff, despite the State government’s directive that no worker should stay away from duty.
Umuahia North LGA Chairman, Hon. Ugochukwu Njinkonye and his deputy, Hon. Bob Ogechi Agbugba could not be reached for comment on the development.
Also, a driver working for a first-class transport company in Umuahia who pleaded anonymity said his company was not ready to risk the lives of staff or their vehicles, hence the need to stay safe. However, joint team of security men also patrolled the cities of Umuahia to maintain law and order