• Anambra poll threatened •DSS vehicle, Igbokwe’s house burnt •Governors, Ohanaeze, leaders meet

By Emma Elekwa, Onitsha; Gbenga Omokhunu, Abuja;  Nwanosike Onu, Awka; Damian Duruiheoma, Enugu; Chris Njoku, Owerri and  Sunny Nwankwo, Umuahia

The Southeast has again been put on the edge as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has renewed its vow to shut down economic and social activities in the region for a month.

IPOB said it would only back down on the threat if the Federal Government gave a firm assurance that its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, would be brought to court on October 21 for trial.

The latest warning by the group coincided with the rampage of gunmen in Nnewi, Anambra State, at the weekend.

The hoodlums killed two, injured one, and torched a Department of State Service (DSS) vehicle as well as the home of a Lagos-based All Progressives Congress(APC) chieftain, Joe Igbokwe,  in the town.

They also struck at the Federal Road Safety Corps and Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH).

However, Southeast governors and other leaders of the zone are scheduled to meet tomorrow in Enugu to,  seek an end to the killings and destruction of properties in the region.

They are also expected to discuss measures to encourage residents of the zone to go about their businesses on Mondays since IPOB had called off Ghost Mondays.

In spite of the troubleshooting by the Southeast governors, IPOB restated it would from October 21 enforce the one-month sit at home because of an alleged plan by the government to continue to incarcerate Kanu.

The group solicited the support of other ethnic nationality agitators for the sit-at-home.

In the statement by its Media and Public Secretary, Emma Powerful, IPOB urged all agitators to put their differences behind them and rise like one people to defend their ancestral land against their common enemy.

The statement reads in part: “Following our earlier declaration of one-month lockdown of Biafraland should the Nigeria Government fail to bring our leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, to the court on October 21, we, the global family of the Indigenous of Biafra, requests our brothers and sisters in the Oduduwa Republic and Middle Belt, including Igbo and Biafra businessmen and women, traders who are doing business outside Biafra land to shut down their business to demonstrate our resolve for the emergence of our new nation, Biafra, and support for our leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, and others who are facing a similar fate with us to join us in sympathy protest.

“All lovers of Biafra, including Christian communities in the North and other parts of Nigeria, who receive unnecessary humiliation, intimidation, and killings from terrorists, bandits, and murderous herdsmen should understand that time has come for all victims of impunity and atrocities to unite together for resistance.

“We need to put our differences behind us and rise as one people to defend our ancestral land against our common enemy and show… that Nigeria belongs to all of us all and any Biafra man residents in Kano, Kaduna, Jos, Gigawa, and other parts of North and western parts of Nigeria must shut down their shops in support of this fight for freedom and release of our leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.

“We cannot afford to abandon him at this point after sacrificing so much for us all. We must not fail to understand that the Federal Government dreads Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Ighoho. two heroes for freedom, and that is why it wants to keep them out of circulation. But we must resist the evil plot.”

However, a top police officer, who pleaded anonymity, told The Nation that  “ the Force will soon be launching a massive, well-coordinated, target-oriented and intelligence-driven operation aimed at neutralising this threat.”.

The security situation in Anambra State however, worsened with gunmen running a rampage in the Nnewi metropolis.

They shot one dead at point-blank while videoing them and torched the DSS vehicle parked along Eme Court Road in the town.

The  second was killed by the  gunmen at the Traffic Junction area of the town before they  headed  to

Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) office and  NAUTH where one person was injured.

There was no casualty at the  FRSC office, but the personnel on duty were forced to flee due to sporadic shootings by the hoodlums.

It was learnt that the gunmen left the town before an Armoured Personel Carrier(APC) arrived.

Southeast governors and other leaders are meeting tomorrow in Enugu to seek ways of ending the killings and destruction of properties.

They are also expected to discuss the measures to encourage residents of the zone to go about their businesses on Mondays since the IPOB had called off its Sit-at-Home.

The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ikenga Tochukwu, who confirmed the incident, said the command had not received the full details

He said: “At about 2 pm, of 3rd Oct 2021, the command received a distress call of a fire incident in Nnewi. The Police Operative are currently on the ground and the area has since been cordoned off.”

Igbokwe, confirmed that his home was razed, blamed it on IPOB.

“IPOB invaded my house in Nnewi. I am sure they raised down the house, giving the jerrycans of petrol I saw being offloaded from their Toyota Sienna via CCTV,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

Igbokwe, who is also the Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Gutter and Drainage,   thanked God  for keeping him “alive”, but added that the loss of his  study room to the incident is his .” greatest regret”.

The APC chief, recently accused IPOB of killing Dr. Chike Akunyili, the husband of the late former Information Minister Prof. Dora Akunyili.

The worsening security in the Southeast, especially ahead of the November governorship election in Anambra State, has precipitated another round of  “urgent meeting” by SOutheast governors.

A memo by the governors’ forum Chairman, Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, showed that other political leaders, Ohanaeze Ndigbo leadership, some religious leaders, and traditional leaders would attend the meeting.

Umahi pleaded with his colleagues to be personally present at the meeting.

The memo partly reads: “ request all governors of Southeast to please, be present .. .and not on representative capacity so that together we should reach some decisions to salvage our region that is presently battling with a high rate of insecurity.

“May I, therefore, request that you please endeavour to attend this meeting for the sake of Ndigbo”.

A source to one of the governors told The Nation that the governors would most likely discuss the delay in the takeoff of the regional security, Ebubeagu, in most of the Southeast states. They may also discuss Kanu’s incarceration and trial.

But a group,  the Igbo National Movement (INM), said Southeast governors were “sleeping on duty “ over insecurity in the zone.

It said the governors, as chief security officers of the zone, had failed to show leadership.

The  INM, in a statement by its   National Coordinator, Anthony  Okolo, said: “If our elected government officials presiding over our people all over Ala’Igbo are leaders in any true sense, this “Aka Enwe” would never have evolved into the human hands on triggers threatening and killing innocent Igbo sons and daughters in their own homeland today.”

Commercial banks operating in Umuahia, the capital of Abia State, and the Aba, the commercial nerve of the state, at the weekend removed the national flag from their premises.

The removal followed a warning by IPOB   that it does not want to see the nation’s flag anywhere in the Southeast.

A bank official told The Nation yesterday that they were monitoring the situation to know whether or not to hang back the flags today.

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