- Enugu govt. announced end of sit-at-home
- Gov. Mbah sealed off business establishments for obeying order
- Residents protested against continued observance
After several weeks of appealing, cajoling and even directing the state residents to ignore the illegal Monday sit-at-home order the state governor, Barr. Peter Mbah has taken a drastic measure to bring to an end the unlawful order by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.
The Monday sit-at-home order which was allegedly issued by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB and its Security wing, Eastern Security Network ESN in August 2021 came into effect immediately throughout the entire South East zone to protest the continued detention of their Leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
In any case, weeks crawled into months and the sit-at-home order literally crippled the economy of the South East zone.
In a research conducted recently, it revealed that the entire zone loses N7.6trn everyday it observes sit-at-home order.
For a zone with 75% of its population on informal sector, this is indeed a huge lost to its struggling economy.
Recently, the Enugu state governor Barr. Peter Mbah also declared that the state loses over N10bn every Monday to illegal sit-at-home order.
“It’s important for us to understand the connection between poverty and this so-called sit-at-home. Each Monday that we sit at home, we lose over N10bn naira from the economic activity that ought to have happened here in our state,” Mbah said.
“People who ordinarily would have stayed in a hotel till Monday before they travel will decide against staying beyond Sunday. So, what happens? The revenue the hoteliers would have generated is gone.
“People who would have come into Enugu to participate in one economic activity or the other won’t show up because you say you are sitting at home on Monday.”
According to him, the perception of insecurity the sit-at-home creates will derail his administration’s plan to move the economy of the state from a public sector-driven economy to a private sector-driven economy.
Following this development, on Sunday, June 4, 2023, the governor announced the end to sit-at-home order, stressing that it caused a huge economic waste.
He encouraged all the residents of the state ignore the unlawful IPOB order and open their businesses, schools and offices on Mondays.
The Commissioner of Police, Enugu state, Ahmed Ammani equally issued a statement, urging all the residents in the state to come out on Mondays so as to end the sit-at-home order which has crippled the economy of the state.
In his statement made available by the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO of the state, Mr. Daniel Ndukwe, the Commissioner assured the residents of adequate security.
“Sequel to the declaration of the Executive Governor of Enugu State,Dr Barr. Peter Ndubuisi Mbah, putting an end to the illegal Sit-at-home order in the State, the Commissioner of Police, CP Ahmed Ammani, fdc, has ordered Area Commanders, Divisional Police Officers, Commanders of PMF Squadron Bases, other Tactical and Operational Units of the Command, to deploy personnel and all the operational and intelligence resources at their disposal to actualize the declaration, by ensuring maximum public security and safety of citizens and property in the State on the hitherto illegal Sit-at-home days.
“He further directs them to ensure that the strategies already devised to reverse the ugly trend are implemented to the latter, warning that lapses on their parts shall not be tolerated”.
“The Commissioner notes that innocent and law-abiding citizens of the State deserve to go about their lawful businesses without fear of harassment or physical threats by unscrupulous and subversive criminal elements, enforcing the illegal Sit-at-home order.
“Hence, he tasks the Supervisory Officers and personnel under them to live up to expectations, by ensuring that every part of the State is visibly patrolled and necessary policing actions taken to forestall possible adverse activities of the undesirable criminal elements”.
However, despite all the assurances of adequate security by the state governor and the Nigeria Police Force, it seemed that the situation may not fizzle out soon.
On Monday, June 5, every road, streets, market, schools and indeed all the public places were once again deserted.
Major markets like Ogbete main market, Enugu, Ogige main market, Nsukka, Opi Market in Nsukka, Afor market in Udenu local government and other markets controlled by the government were opened but no single trader was seen inside the market.
Some of them interviewed by WITHIN NIGERIA narrated that they could not afford to gamble their lives on the altar of political pronouncement.
According to them, the governor should lead by example by coming down to one of the major markets without any security details. Though schools visited then by our reporter were on midterm break, many of the teachers explained that they were not going to resume work on Mondays except there is adequate security to forestall any unforeseen circumstance.
However, there was no adequate security after the midterm break and the secessionist group through its Finland-based leader, Simon Ekpa issued one week sit-at-home.
The sit-at-home started from July 3 to 10 throughout the length and breadth of the South East zone. The one week sit-at-home order literally grounded the zone that has been under jugular of kidnapping and other security challenges.
However, on Saturday, July 22, the state government issued a statement directing all the business owners to open for business on Mondays or risk closure by the state government.
The statement which was signed by the Secretary to the state Government Professor Chidiebere Onyia, equally assured the residents of adequate security on Mondays.
The statement read thus; “The Enugu State government wishes to remind the good people and residents of the state that the ban on the illegal Monday sit-at-home order remains effective.
“In view of this, civil servants, schools, markets, financial institutions, business premises, and others, are hereby directed to resume normal activities on Monday.
“Government restates its resolve to apply sanctions against defaulters of its cancellation of the illegal Monday sit-at-home order in the state.
“Markets that fail to open to customers on Monday shall be shut down indefinitely. Shops in the markets that close on Monday shall be sealed and re-allocated to those eager to do business in the state. Government extends the same warning of sanctions against schools, financial institutions, shopping malls, department stores, business premises, and others that may defy its directive.
“Government reiterates that the illegal sit-at-home order is totally at odds with the Igbo spirit of industry, hardwork, enterprise, productivity, and creativity.
“The general public is urged to go about their normal daily activities as adequate security measures have been put in place to protect lives and property.”
On Monday, July 24, offices, shops and other public places were as usual under lock and key.
When our reporter visited some schools to ascertain the level of compliance by the teachers, some of them were seen hanging around the premises, waiting for their colleagues even as no student or pupil was seen in the school premises.
At Community Primary School, Agbani Nsukka, all the teachers were present as at 9:30am when WITHIN NIGERIA visited the school.
The Head teacher couldn’t speak to our reporter but instructed the teachers not to go back home until 2pm dismissing time, even as no pupil was seen.
At Model Primary school, Nsukka, one of the most populous public schools in the metropolis, teachers were signing the attendance register, even as no pupil was seen.
One of the teachers who spoke to our reporter under anonymity explained that she was so much concerned about her security.
“For how long shall we be doing this? I am so much concerned about my security here on Mondays. We have had cases of attacks by the unknown gun men on innocent citizens on Mondays.”
According to the teacher, today was the last day she would come to work on Monday until late September when schools will resume after long vacation.
At Enugu metropolis, the governor was going around with officials of Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority, ECTDA sealing off shops that couldn’t comply with the government’s directive against sit-at-home order.
It was gathered that not less than five shops were sealed off by the governor in the metropolis for obeying unlawful sit-at-home order.
Though streets, shops, markets and other private and public places were deserted, the governor was cited going round with ECTDA officials, sealing off erring business establishments.
In the face of foregoing, many observers have posed, is the governor winning the war against illegal sit-at-home order in the state?
Reacting to the drastic measure by the governor, Michael Nwodo said it is unfair to seal off their businesses.
According to Nwodo, “our people like chasing shadows. Governor Mbah should retrace his steps before he plunges this state peaceful sate into anarchy. This is an infringement on people’s fundamental human rights.”
Also reacting to the sealing off , a content creator, Paul Ekperi explained that the governor has no right to embark on such harsh measures against the shop owners.
“Because he is a lawyer, I expect Governor Peter Mbah to know;
“That he is not entitled to arbitrarily to seal off any private shop or business premises belonging to citizens/residents in the State. I expect him to know that by laissez-faire theory of commerce, citizens retain the right to decide when to do business and when not to.
“That he is not entitled to unilaterally rescind any allocation of shop contract previously made between some of the traders and government of Enugu State on the mere ground that the allottees refused to do business on Mondays.
“I expect him to know that opening for business on Mondays was not one of the terms of such allocation and as such cannot constitute a ground for the rescission of the contract.
“That he is not entitled to punish any civil servant or government employee whether by way of suspension, fine or deduction of salary on the mere ground of the worker’s refusal to work on Mondays due to the chaotic security atmosphere arising from the sit-at-home order by Simon Ekpa and his cohorts.
“I expect him to know that while a worker has a duty to be at his office/duty post on every working day, the employer equally has a corresponding duty to ensure that the working environment is safe for the worker. Thus, an employer who has not put in place adequate security facilities at the workplace has no right in law to ask or compel a worker to resume work.”
Amidst the confusion, fear and anxiety generated by the sit-at-home order by the IPOB and its security wing, ESN, some residents of Enugu state on Monday, July 24, took to the streets, demanding the abolition of the order by the fellow residents.
These residents who our reporter gathered were mainly party members were seen carrying flex with inscription, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, SAY TO SIT-AT-HOME” were seeing marching along Okpara Avenue, Enugu.