Security Operatives, IPOB Face-off Imminent As Group Dares Army, Police

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There is an impending showdown between Nigerian security forces and supporters of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) following a sit-at-home order by the group in the South East and South South geopolitical zones. While the police and army authorities have warned against obstruction of normal activities in the regions, the separatist group has vowed that nothing will stop it from going ahead with the protest. In view of the contentious matter, the Ebonyi State Police Command has told inhabitants of the state to go about their normal businesses today without any fear of molestation, assuring them that their security is guaranteed. The state police commissioner, CP Musa Kimo, gave the directive yesterday following the September 14 sit-at-home order by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, after soldiers on a military exercise, codenamed Operation Python Dance 2, invaded his country home in Umuahia, Abia State. LEADERSHIP recalls that, one year ago, soldiers invaded the palace of HRH Eze Israel Kanu in Eziama Afaraukwu, Umuahia in search of Kanu, an invasion that reportedly left scores of members of the IPOB and others either wounded or dead. Since the September 14, 2017 incident, the whereabouts of Kanu, his parents, Eze Kanu and his wife, and some of his aides and loyalists have remained unknown, hence the separatist group’s sit-at-home call. But in an effort to douse any fear of possible harassment amongst Ebonyi residents, CP Kimo called on the management of commercial institutions, the leadership of different markets in the state and the general public not to express any fear while going about their normal businesses as men of the command are battle ready to clampdown on members of the separatist group if they cause any trouble. Briefing journalists at the state command headquarters in Abakaliki, the commissioner of police said that the sit-at-home protest as proposed was meant to force law abiding members of the public, especially within the South East, not to come out on September 14. He said, “We are aware that IPOB has concluded plans to intimidate, harass and molest law abiding citizens. I want to assure all responsible law abiding citizens and other people who are here to do their business that cogent security measures are in place to ensure that the people go about their normal businesses. “I also want to appeal to parents and guardians to warn their children to desist, otherwise if they come out, they will meet their Waterloo.” Kimo also assured residents and traders in the state of his command’s resolve, in partnership with other security agencies and relevant stakeholders, to continue to ensure a safe and secure state. Collaborating the position of the Commissioner of Police, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP, Loveth Odah insisted that there was nothing to worry about before, during and after September 14 concerning the alleged proposed sit-at-home protest being contemplated by IPOB members. ASP Odah further stated that anyone caught trying to disrupt the existing peace and security in the state under any guise would be made to face the full weight of the law. She reminded financial institutions in the state on the need not to close bank business activities before, during or after on the said day as the manager of any bank found to have closed for business would be made to answer some questions. “We have held meetings with managers of banks, leadership of market unions, commercial motorcycle operators, and leadership of tricycle operators in the state, among others, to assure them on the need to go about their normal business and they have given us their word. “We won’t stop anyone who decides not to open his shop or who decides not to open for any business but should anyone in any guise attempt to force or intimidate people not to open their shop, then the person would have questions to answer to the command.” Meanwhile, the zonal leader of Ebonyi Central zone of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State Biafra (MASSOB), Biafra Independent Movement (BIM), Mr. Sylvester Useh yesterday said the group was not part of IPOB’s sit-at-home order for September 14. Useh, in a telephone interview with LEADERSHIP in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, said that rather than heed IPOB’s call, Ndigbo should instead participate actively in the forthcoming 19th anniversary celebration of BIM in the state as no form of violence would mar the exercise. According to the MASSOB BIM leader, the group is not known for violence and, as such, security agencies should not bother about any breakdown of law and order during the exercise slated for today, September 13. “Our celebration is usually done every year and we are not violent about it. We are not part of IPOB sit-at-home order. That is not our modus operandi. We are not forceful in nature. MASSOB BIM is headed by Uwazurike, the Biafra leader. “We urge lovers of Ndigbo to come out and celebrate with us on September 13, 2018. We are not causing any war. We are civil and we are not going to block any street. It is a pure celebration in the state.” Meanwhile, the Enugu State Police Command has warned members of IPOB to desist from their planned sit-at-home exercise slated for tomorrow, Friday. A statement from the police PRO in Enugu State, Ebere Amaraizu, described the intended act as unpatriotic and inimical to the socio- economic development of the state, even as he warned those behind the unwholesome habit to desist from any act that would bring them in conflict with the law. Amaraizu advised parents and guardians not to allow their children or wards to be used by any group to disrupt the existing peace in the state. “The command, in this regard, advises those in this intended act to toe the part of peace and order in the state, as the state police command, working in synergy with other security agencies, would stop at nothing at ensuring that the existing peace in state is not disrupted or compromised,” he stated. He further advised members of the public to disregard the sit-at-home call and go about their normal lawful businesses in the state without fear of any molestation or intimidation and to promptly report any threat to peace in their environment to the police. Also, the Anambra State police command has warned the public to ignore the IPOB sit-at-home order. The state commissioner of police, Mr. Garba Umar, in a press conference, reminded members of the public that IPOB was not recognised by law, that it had been proscribed and, as such, members of the public should not to heed any order by the group. He further gave assurance that the police command had mobilised forces, including other sister agencies – Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps and the military – to provide adequate security for all law abiding citizens. Umar stated: “We assure all members of the public that we have made arrangements to provide adequate security in all commercial centres, worship places and schools and all other places that security is necessary. “This IPOB people – legally, they do not exist. We are appealing to the members of the public on no account will they be coerced to join this IPOB people”, the CP warned

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