The sit-at-home order by the Indigenous People of Biafra to residents of the Southeast on Monday grounded activities in almost all parts of Imo State with Owerri, the state capital, being the worst hit.
IPOB had last week issued the order in protest over the continued detention of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, by the Department of State Services.
However, the state police command, in a statement, had advised members of the public to ignore the order and to go about their normal legitimate businesses with an assurance that adequate measures had been put in place to protect lives and properties.
Curiously, as early as 6.30 am, the usual daily boisterous activities in the town disappeared as markets, shops, banks, fast food centres, popular eatery joints/relaxation, mobile food vendors and artisans had taken flight from the city.
While the Owerri/Orlu road, Wetheral, Tetlow, Okigwe, Port-Harcourt and Onitsha roads were deserted, the remnant portions of the popular Owerri main market also known as Eke Ukwu Owerre, relief market, New market and World Bank markets wore the ugly toga of a conquered enclave.
The picture was the same at the ancient Afor Umuaka and Nkwo-Orodo markets in the Njaba and Mbaitoli council areas respectively.
The non-availability of commercial vehicles on the roads for Umuahia, Enugu, Port–Harcourt and Onitsha bound passengers opened the gate for some drivers to make quick money by secretly loading and ferrying desperate passengers through the bush paths before linking with the main roads leading to their destinations.
Our correspondent, who monitored the situation, noticed the presence of armed soldiers who patrolled the major roads intermittently apparently to nip in the bud possible outbreak of law and order just as some residents were seen in groups discussing the situation and others merely stayed indoors.
Some streets within the town were converted into football fields by idle youths, who played balls on them as there were no vehicles to disturb them.
A trader, Mr. Jude Isiguzo, told our correspondent, “My brother, I do not want to take any risk because these IPOB boys are dangerous and they can strike at any point in time, hence I have closed my shop.”
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