Sit-at-home in South-East is criminal activity — Peter Obi

LABOUR Party (LP) presidential candidate in the 2023 general elections Peter Obi has described sit-at-home orders in Nigeria’s South-East as ‘criminal’ activity and charged security agencies to tackle the menace.

In a statement released via his Twitter handle on Thursday, July 13, Obi commended state governors in the region for making renewed efforts to combat the sit-at-home orders issued by Finland-based Biafra agitator Simon Ekpa.

Obi also condemned insecurity in other regions, including the North, saying the situation in the country is a cause for concern.

“According to the 1st Quarter Mass Atrocities Casualty Tracking Report, over 1,230 Nigerians were killed. Seventy-nine of them security operatives, with over 600 abductions in the first quarter of this year alone.

“With what has been happening in the North-Central and Zamfara State lately the figure as of today will be mind-boggling even far more than the deaths recorded in Russia/Ukraine ongoing carnage. It’s unacceptable that hundreds of innocent lives will continue to be wasted in Nigeria needlessly through communal clashes, bandits, and kidnapping activities,” Obi said.

“The situation in the Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State has raised a lot of anxiety because of the number of lives and properties lost with very little resistance from security operatives.

“Also disturbing is the continued disruption of business and social activities in the South-East region over the Sit-at-Home directive purported to be coming from the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB, when the body has publicly denied issuing such directive. What is going on in the South East therefore is essentially a criminal activity that must be nipped in the bud.”

He also urged clerics and leaders in all religious sects to contribute to the fight against insecurity by preaching peace.

Sit-at-home orders in South-East

While terror activities have ravaged many states in Nigeria, particularly in the Northern region, the spate of insecurity in the South-East has been rising at an alarming rate.

Agitations by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the region led to a weekly sit-at-home order, enforced every Monday since the arrest of the group’s leader Nnamdi Kanu in 2021.

Failure of residents to comply with the sit-at-home orders resulted in attacks and death in some cases.

However, a struggle for control divided IPOB the group into factions, with some members staying loyal to Kanu and others to his self-acclaimed disciple Ekpa, who rose to prominence after his principal’s arrest.

Following several erratic sit-at-home orders declared by Ekpa, Kanu reportedly dissociated from him in 2022, saying he was being sponsored by those opposed to the group.

In the past months, IPOB had urged residents of the South-East to ignore sit-at-home orders by the Ekpa-led faction. The latest order by Ekpa is billed to last for two weeks in August 2023.

Governor of Enugu State Peter Mbah banned sit-at-home orders in the state. However, residents have continued to stay at home on sit-at-home days over fears for their lives.



    Ekpa extends sit-at-home to Lagos

    Meanwhile, Ekpa has announced that after the two-week sit-at-home in the South-East, the order would be extended to Igbos living in Lagos.

    “Biafrans in Lagos should get ready to be part of the demand to release Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. We are coming to Lagos after the 2 week-long sit at home.

    “It is time to show your solidarity to this call for justice. Biafrans in Lagos will lockdown. The consultation will start soon,” Ekpa said in a statement on Wednesday, July 12.

    In March, Ekpa made a similar announcement, ordering Igbos living in Lagos to remain indoors to cripple the economy of the state. IPOB, however, distanced itself from the order and urged residents to ignore it.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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