16th July 2024
Eastern News News

Enugu Government Rejects Sit-At-Home Order,Deploy Security Agencies

Ahead of today’s Biafra Heroes Day declared by the separatist Indigenous People of Biafra across the South-East, the Commissioner of Police in Anambra State, Nnaghe Itam, on Wednesday, deployed policemen across schools in the state.

Similarly, the Enugu State government rejected the sit-at-home order called by IPOB to mark the day, saying it had put security agencies on red alert to resist any attempt at the breaking of law and order.

IPOB had last week, in a statement by its spokesman, Emma Powerful, advised the West African Examination Council to shift WASSCE papers slated for May 30.

It similarly advised the Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Anambra State to shift its convocation slated for the same date.

The separatist group declared May 30 sit-at-home across the five South-East states, warning that there would be no business activities and no movements to honour Igbo people killed during the civil war of 1967-1970.

Our correspondent, who went around major markets and schools across Anambra State on Wednesday, observed heavy security presence with security vehicles as residents were also seen making last-minute purchases to avoid being stranded.

This was just as some of the students taking part in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination were seen relocating to areas near their examination centres, so as to avoid being stranded as IPOB has declared no movement across the region.

Customers also besieged banks and Automated Teller Machine points to withdraw cash in order to make purchases and get ready for the day.

A resident, who was seen making quick purchases at Eke Awka Market, in Awka, Grace Acho, who spoke to our correspondent, said, “My brother, when I heard that markets would not open tomorrow, I took permission from the office to rush here to buy some foodstuffs and get ready for tomorrow.

“I have also asked my son taking the exam tomorrow to go and stay at my sister’s house which is near his examination centre, so that he could trek to the exam venue to take his exam. We only pray they are allowed to take the exam because they are writing Mathematics tomorrow and it is an important subject.

“Security should be beefed up around the examination venues since it is obvious that WAEC would not shift it.”

The police spokesman in Anambra State, SP Tochukwu Ikenga, disclosed the deployment of security operatives around the markets and schools, in a statement on Wednesday.

Ikenga said the security operatives, under the “Operatives of Schools Protection Squad”, were being led by the Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of the command’s Operations Department.

Ikenga said the deployment was to fortify the joint security force to address any security concerns, especially “against criminal elements enforcing illegal sit-at-home in the state” and to ensure the safety of students taking WASSCE,

He said, “The Commissioner of Police in Anambra, CP Nnaghe Itam, has complemented the already emplaced joint security force, comprising the Army, Navy, civil defence, and other sister agencies, to address any security concerns, especially against criminal elements enforcing illegal sit-at-home in the state.

“There is the deployment of the operatives of Schools Protection Squad led by the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Operations Department to ensure the safety of students in the state, for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination on May 30th, 2024 nationwide.

“The squad is equipped with relevant assets and advanced training to effectively respond to security challenges facing educational institutions.

“The personnel dispatched have been tasked to intensify robust patrols around schools and vulnerable institutions in all the locations in the state.

Efforts to get the reactions of the state Commissioner for Education, Prof. Ngozi Chuma-Udeh, to the development were unsuccessful as she could not be reached on her mobile line.

When contacted on Wednesday, the IPOB spokesman, Emma Powerful, insisted that the sit-at-home remained sacrosanct saying, “The Nigerian government must understand that they cannot slaughter our heroes and, at the same time, stop us from mourning or remembering them.

“In this year’s Biafran Heroes Remembrance Day, All activities in Biafra Land are banned. Markets, schools, banks, government, and private businesses are not allowed to open. All transport services, air, sea and land transport are not allowed to operate. The entire Biafra land will be on lockdown from 6 am to 6 pm on May 30, 2024.

“Exceptions to these directives are institutions and individuals on critical special duties such as nurses, doctors, ambulance services, fire services, hospitals, medical workers, and journalists.”

But the Enugu State Government, on Wednesday, also insisted that business would go on as usual, warning IPOB against scuttling the ongoing WASSCE.

But in a statement on Wednesday, the Enugu State Commissioner for Information, Mr Aka Eze Aka, described the sit-at-home order by IPOB as nothing but gloom for the future, contrary to what their forebears fought for.

He warned the separatist group against scuttling the general mathematics examination for students in the South-East.

Aka said, “The Enugu State Government notes with deep concern the statement credited to the Indigenous People of Biafra directing the West African Examination Council to postpone the General Mathematics (Theory and Objectives) examinations scheduled for Thursday, May 30, 2024, which the IPOB had designated ‘Biafra Heroes Day’.

“We note with particular concern IPOB’s statement that ‘WAEC board should not endanger the lives of small children because that day is not safe for any individual in Biafra territory.’

“This is unacceptable to us, not only because of the well-known position of the Enugu State Government on illegal sit-at-home orders, which have dealt a great blow on the socio-economic life and fortunes of the South East region but also because of the far-reaching consequences of a whole generation of Enugu children failing to sit for a fundamental subject such as Mathematics in one year.”

Aka said, who stressed that Igbo people were known for industry and education, declared that “any pronouncement or action that tends to deny our children their rights to education, which is their ticket to the future, is offensive to our sensibilities and surely the sensibilities of our founding fathers and fallen heroes, who must be turning in their graves, wondering what could have happened to us as a people.”

He said while the Enugu State Government recognised “the sacrifices of our gallant forebears, who gave their all, including their lives, to defend the Igbo land,” the government would not sit by “and watch the future of our children aborted by such ill-conceived pronouncement intended to keep them at home.”

“WAEC, as the name implies, is a regional body organising SSCE, not just in Nigeria, but also across West Africa. The subregion will certainly not wait for us.”

“The Enugu State Government, therefore, enjoins candidates sitting for ongoing SSCE in Enugu State to feel free to go to their respective centres to sit for their papers on Thursday, May 30, 2024, without any fears, while the officials involved in the conduct of the examination should also go about their legitimate duties without apprehension.”

The government said it had put the security agencies “on red alert to ensure the security of lives and property and also deal, according to the laws of the land, with anyone or group bent on scuttling the SSCE scheduled for May 30, 2024, or causing a breach of peace and security of any type.”

The government also warned civil servants and political appointees in the state against staying away from work.

“Failure to be at their duty posts on the above date will attract summary dismissal from service in line with the enabling provisions of the Public Service Rules,” the state threatened.

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