In continuation of the protest calling for the release of the detained leader and Director, Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, no fewer than 25,000 members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, locked down Aba, Abia state, as markets and other business centres were deserted.
247ureports.com gathered that the group went round markets and major roads in the city warning traders and residents that no commercial activity would be allowed in Aba on Tuesday.
As at 7.30am yesterday, the protest march which commenced from Port Harcourt road had spread to other areas of the city as the IPOB members divided themselves into smaller groups with each heading towards a particular direction. It was observed that a group took over the city centre comprising Asa road, main Motor Park, post office and Mosque Street where they set up a barricade. Motorists diverted to alternative routes to escape the rage of the protesters.
Earlier, IPOB members had visited Eziukwu ,Ariaria International, Ekeoha shopping centre and Ahia Ohuu markets to ensure compliance with the order. Some shop owners who had already opened for the day’s business at the popular Azikiwe, Asa and other adjoining road hurriedly shut their shops to avoid the anger of the protesters.
However, as at 10am, commercial activities were ongoing at the Ehere modern market in Obingwa local government as IPOB members were not sighted in the area. Policemen from the Ogbor Hill Division were stationed at the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA Channel 6, Aba, perhaps to prevent a repeat of the incident where the IPOB members stormed the gate of the station and insisted on their activities being aired.
As they marched along Aba –Owerri leading to the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway, the protesters sang anti Nigerian government songs while extolling Kanu who they described as a hero. Some of them ensured that roadside traders, who failed to comply with the order, were thoroughly harassed.
Our correspondent observed a situation where an IPOB member who attempted to lit a substance which looked like Indian hemp was harassed and the substance confiscated from him as some of his colleagues, warning that they are scared of playing into the hands of their enemies. According to them, ” We received information that some people were paid to infiltrate the protest and ensure it turns into crisis; this is why we won’t let anybody mess up.”
The situation caused heavy traffic jams when the protest started, but as at 11am, no vehicle was sighted on the roads as IPOB members clothed themselves in Kanu’s portraits and Biafran flags while others blew the famous ‘Vuvuzela’ and trumpets dancing on the roads.
Some members of the group who spoke to journalists said the protest would continue until the detained Kanu is released with the actualization of an independent state of Biafra.
“We want Biafra, a country of our own where we will have freedom. Look at the way we are being marginalized in Nigeria. No roads in Igbo land, no employment; Ndigbo have suffered enough and must be allowed to go. We are going to shut down Nigeria.”
As at 3pm, vehicles hit the road, even as the protest was still ongoing as at 6pm when we went to press.