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In unison, several Igbo leaders and organizations expressed their disapproval yesterday over the repeated imposition of lockdowns in the South-East region by the Simon Ekpa-led faction of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) based in Finland, urging the Federal Government to take decisive measures.
Bearing in mind the detrimental impact of the ongoing lockdown on the economy of the South-East region, certain leaders, among others, called on the Federal Government to diplomatically liaise with the Finnish government to address the activities of Simon Ekpa.
Spanning several months, the Ekpa-led group has consistently been issuing and imposing sit-at-home orders across various areas of the South East, utilizing civil disobedience as a means to advance their goal of achieving the Republic of Biafra.
The zone has been consistently observing sit-at-home routines on Mondays and other designated days, as instructed by the separatist group, for an extended period.
While the lockdown was in effect, gunmen took it upon themselves to enforce the order through violent means, targeting traders, school children, and anyone encountered on the roads, in markets, or schools.
Tragically, this has led to a significant loss of lives, with reports of buses and buildings being deliberately set on fire.
Furthermore, confrontations have taken place between security agencies and the enforcers resulting in casualties on both sides.
With the residents finally being able to resume normalcy after a challenging seven-day lockdown, Mr Simon Ekpa, acting as Prime Minister on behalf of the Biafran Government in Exile, issued a statement on July 11, imposing a 14-day lockdown in Biafra land, further burdening the weary population.
As per Ekpa’s statement, Biafra land will be subjected to a comprehensive lockdown during the following time frames: Monday, July 31 to Friday, August 4; Monday, August 7 to Friday, August 11; and Monday, August 14.
However, Ekpa specified that there would be temporary breaks in the lockdown to facilitate the opening of markets on Saturdays and Sundays. As such, markets will be permitted to operate on August 5, 6, 12, and 13.
On Thursday, Mr Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State and the Labour Party’s presidential candidate for 2023, expressed strong disapproval of the insecurity prevailing in the South-East region. He berated the recurring imposition of sit-at-home orders in the region, deeming them criminal acts.
Addressing the rising insecurity in the nation, Obi tweeted: ‘What is going on in the South-East is essentially a criminal activity that must be nipped in the bud, with all hands being on deck, security agencies, and the people alike.’
Nnamdi Kanu, at the helm of the prime IPOB faction, has consistently disassociated himself from the order issued by Ekpa, the leader of the splinter group within IPOB, on multiple occasions.
Obi added: ‘The South-east Governors are to be commended for their renewed efforts at curbing this menace but there is a need to be more strategic and intelligence-driven in our approach to reducing the suffering of innocent people.’
Several Igbo leaders and groups, while expressing their disapproval of the lockdown, accused Ekpa of being a puppet working for undisclosed paymasters with the intention of sabotaging the economy of the South-East region.
In addition, they suggested that communities take measures to reinforce their vigilante groups, equipping them to effectively deal with individuals who exploit the sit-at-home order to propagate violence within Igbo communities.