Pupils sitting for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) had a tough day in many parts of the Southeast on Monday.
The exercise was disrupted in many centres by hoodlums who claimed to be enforcing a sit-at-home that had been called off by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
The group announced the Monday sit-at-home to protest the detention of its leader Nnamdi Kanu, beginning August 9, but later called it off.
Yet, there had been several attacks on residents and travellers by those who claim to be IPOB members on Mondays.
Southeast governors had tried to convince residents to go about their normal business, sometimes issuing threats to workers and business owners, but residents are concerned that their security is not guaranteed.
IPOB has declared another sit-at-home for today to commemorate the alleged invasion of Kanu’s home by the military.
The group’s spokesman, Emma Powerful, said in a statement yesterday: “The sit-at-home order issued by the IPOB leadership to be observed tomorrow (today) is sacrosanct.
“The peaceful protest is for the remembrance of the victims of the genocidal invasion of our leader’s compound at Afaraukwu Ibeku Umuahia on the 14th of September 2017.
“No fewer than 28 innocent Biafrans were killed that day by the Nigeria Army during the raid.
“We advise all Biafrans both men and women to stay indoors as a mark of honour to these fallen heroes and heroines.
“We must not fail to remember the supreme sacrifices of these great freedom seekers.
“Nothing done to honour them should be considered too much for they have watered the tree of Biafra freedom with their blood.”
WAEC examination was disrupted at the Comprehensive Secondary School, Nkume Njaba in Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State.
Pupils and teachers were chased away by hoodlums purportedly enforcing the sit-at-home.
The pupils were to sit for the English Language.
A staff member said a group of men came into the school at about 8.30 am and burnt all motorcycles parked on the premises.
Rather than the empty streets of previous Mondays, businesses, fast-food centres, artisans, roadside traders, supermarkets and mobile food vendors operated freely in Owerri, the state capital.
There were inter-city bus services, but banks were shut.
Anambra Governor Willie Obiano went into the streets to convince residents to open for business.
The governor also visited Onitsha, the commercial centre, to encourage traders to come out.
Some pupils failed to sit for the WAEC examination over a fear of attack.
Banks, markets, shops and other commercial activities were grounded in Awka, Onitsha and Nnewi.
A banker said they were scared of opening despite the governor’s threat to seal any bank that refused to open.
“Yes, he promised to deploy more security personnel. Is it the same security men that are even more afraid than the civilians?
“What plans does it have for any bank that is attacked?” she said.
In Enugu, hoodlums enforcing the sit-at-home set ablaze two commercial tricycles.
The incident occurred at about 8 am at Abakpa Nike in the Enugu East Local Government Area.
The hoodlums asked the riders and their passengers to leave before setting the tricycles on fire.
Some residents said the hoodlums came out early to enforce the sit-at-home order.
Shops, schools, banks and other businesses remained shut in Ebonyi as residents continued to observe the suspended sit-at-home.
This was despite Governor David Umahi’s threat that people risked losing their shops if they failed to open for business.
Torrential rainfall in Abakaliki did not help matters.
Banks remained shut despite the threat that they may be barred from operating in the state.
Aside from pupils sitting for the WAEC examination, others did not turn up.
Petrol stations, including Umahi’s Brass Oil, did not open. Black marketers had a field day.
Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu warned that the state government would deal decisively with anyone or group of persons that molest or intimidates visitors or residents while enforcing a sit-at-home.
Commissioner for Information, Mr. John Okiyi-Kalu, in a statement, urged pupils sitting for WAEC today not to miss the examination.
“The government wishes to advise parents to ensure that their children go to the examination centres for their papers while teachers and examination supervisors are to ensure the protection of the children before, during and after the examinations.
“Other citizens are also encouraged to go about their normal duties without fear of molestation as necessary measures have been put in place to protect them,” the statement reads.
Okiyi-Kalu said residents should report any harassment to the police by calling 08035415405, 08079210003, 0807921000 and 08079210005.
Residents stayed away as major markets were closed.
Workers also stayed away despite government threats; banks and other financial institutions did not open.
A financial expert and former Economic Adviser to Abia State Government, Chief Agu Ojukwu, said: “When businesses are shut down in Aba, the state will be losing nothing less than N2billion.
“What the Southeast loses on each sit-at-home day cannot be quantified.”