Leadership of some northern groups involved in commercial activities between the North and South East zone have directed commodity traders and truck drivers to shun the zone over incessant killings of their members by members of the outlawed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).
Coordinator of the Northern Consensus Forum, Dr Auwal Abdullahi Aliyu, told Daily Trust that they have declared 3 days warning strike due to the constant killing of the northerners in the South East, adding that not less than 100 northerners were murdered in the zone within last week.
He said the strike action became necessary so as to stop northern youths from taking laws into their hands in retaliation for continued killings.
Aliyu said the strike, which began on Thursday (yesterday) has started yielding positive impact adding that they have notified security agencies and all state governors in the North and those in the affected zone.
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Movement of supply trucks is said to be halted on major routes since the commencement of the boycott order with prices of food items soaring in major towns in the South East and the South South zones.
“We have blocked the roads linking the North to the East ranging from Benue, Nasarawa, Kwara and Plateau state among others, and the truck drivers are cooperating with us, “ he said.
Daily Trust had reported how the gunmen had killed at least 24 persons within three days as they went about enforcing a stay-at-home order declared by a factional spokesperson of IPOB, Simon Ekpa.
The Public Relations Officer of the Arewa Progressives Forum for 17 states in Southern Nigeria, Malam Badamasi Muhammad told Daily Trust that most northerners living in the villages of the South East have relocated back to the North over fear of the incessant attacks. He said only few people who are living in major cities remain, though they also live in panic.
He said most of those who are still in the South East are there because they have no other options.
“The main reasons why we and others are still here is lack of sufficient opportunities in the North and some of us are used to living in the South East. Many were born and brought up here, many don’t have any other thing to do in the North. Some will prefer to stay here due to the level of the poverty in the North, but as I am talking to you, many have vacated and moved back to the North.
“We used to have many of our people in the villages of South East before; mainly petty traders, those selling beef skewers, cobblers, etc. All have now left due to the activities of the Biafra agitators. It is getting worse these days,” he said.
He expressed happiness with the order to stop commodities from the North getting to the South East, saying it will save the lives of those involved.
“We are very happy with this measure. It’s an action that will send messages to the governors and traditional rulers and other stakeholders in the zone. Our members are being murdered daily. Happily, the federal government has been taking action by deploying huge security formations within the cities, these killers need to be arrested and brought to book. If a young man will make a tweet and will be traced by security men and arrested, what stops the same security agencies from tracing these killers?” He asked.
Another resident of Imo State, Muhammed Abdulkadir, told Daily Trust that the killings of northerners in the South East is getting worse on a daily basis. “As I am talking to you, even yesterday (Wednesday) many of our people were killed at Idiato, along Onitsha-Owerri road. The victims were truck drivers and their boys who were conveying noodles, floors and other commodities. Also, some bus passengers were intercepted and killed, they were burnt along with their vehicles.
“I was involved in preparing the dead bodies for burial. We took the wounded ones to hospitals. The Imo State governor had been assisting us with some funds to bury the victims, but it seems he is even tired of it lately,” he said.
The Sarkin Hausawa of Enugu, Alhaji Haruna Sulaiman, who said both him and his father were born in Enugu, bemoaned the ongoing tension while urging the northerners in the South East to always abide by the order.
“Our people should always stay at home whenever there is a sit-at-home order. I have been advising those living in the villages and remote areas to vacate, even me, I don’t go to such areas. I have friends who usually invite me for their occasions, but when I know it is a village, I don’t go, I will just contribute and give them money for the weddings. The precautionary measures are necessary and our people should understand and be careful” he said.
On the boycott order by some northern groups, the Sarkin Hausawa said it will be of help to a certain level as it will draw the attention of leaders to their predicament. “With the strike, even those who are not aware of the current situation, will now know, and maybe it will resolve the issue. But it will also affect us; any northerner you see in the East, he is here for business or working as labourers, so the strike will also affect us” he said.
Prices of perishable goods other food items soar
Some residents of the region told Daily Trust that the price of perishable goods and other food items usually supplied from the northern part of the country have risen.
A resident of Port Harcourt in Rivers State, Mukhtar Muhammed, told Daily Trust that the price of perishable goods and some food items have shot up less than 12 hours after the boycott announced by the truck drivers and traders bringing goods from the North to the East.
Sit-at Home: Umahi declares war on IPOB leader, Ekpa
The governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, yesterday declared war against the faction of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) loyal to Simon Ekpa.
IPOB under the command of Ekpa recently declared a five-day sit-at-home during which people were killed and property destroyed during enforcement.
The headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Owerri, Imo State was on Monday attacked by gunmen suspected to be members IPOB and its affiliate, Eastern Security Network (ESN).
Three gunmen and two policemen died in the attack.
Umahi, who spoke on Thursday in Abakaliki, the state capital, during a Christmas party organised for widows and elders in the state, sought stakeholders including local government chairmen and monarchs to give valid information of places including forest in their respective locations where the group members are hiding.
“Another thing I wish to tell you about is the unknown gunmen. So I’m asking the stakeholders in local government to give us information about the people in the forest, we are going to enter and flush them out. We need to mount surveillance at night in villages and everywhere because we have declared war upon these people.
“We are going to disclose secret phone numbers to call, just call and tell us where they are in the forest; we are going to flush them out,” he said.
Umahi, who said that the South East governors had earlier through their forum, opposed the operation and movement of IPOB, lamented that some individuals had been aiding the group.
“We are reaping the fruits that we sow. When this thing started in the name of Biafra. I am the chairman South East Governors’ Forum. The governors stood against it but a lot of people silently went behind to encourage it.
“Every criminal today says he is IPOB or ESN. Now we have another known as Ekpa bandits. Is this the kind of Biafra that we deserve, to be killing ourselves?”