- There were isolated incidents where a group of protesters was alleged to have destroyed goods of traders who failed to comply with the order…
By Ugochukwu Alaribe, Aba; Nwabueze Okonkwo, Onitsha; Chidi Nkwopara, Owerri & Francis Igata, Enugu
IT began like a whirlwind that is now sweeping through the South East states and other states with significant Igbo population. Even though there presently appears to be a temporary lull, the dust raised is yet to settle. But that is not all. The one million protest march embarked upon by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, which shut down markets in most cities in the South-East, took a heavy toll on the dwindling economy of the affected states. The affected traders have also begun to count the losses suffered while the three-day protest lasted.
In the Enyimba City of Aba, Vanguard Features, VF, gathered that with the exception of the Ehere Modern Market, located along Ikot Ekpene in Obingwa Local Government Area, the protesters ensured that other markets in the city were shut.
As early as 7.45am on Monday, members of the IPOB who formed themselves into several groups, each numbering over 5,000, had stormed Ariaria International, Ohabiam Electronics, Ekeoha , Ngwa Road and Cemetery Markets to ensure that they complied with the order.
Shop owners hurriedly close
While marching through major roads such as Azikiwe, Cemetery, Asa, Faulks, Bakassi Shoe Plaza, Aba-Owerri, including the Osisioma Ngwa area, VF observed that shop owners who had opened for business, hurriedly closed their shops to avoid the anger of the protesters.
Though the protest was peaceful, there were isolated incidents where a group of protesters was alleged to have destroyed goods of traders who failed to comply with the order. This kind of scenario may have informed the patrolling of major roads by a combined team of security agents to ensure hoodlums did not hijack the protest to loot property.
From Port Harcourt Road to Osisioma Ngwa area and Ogbor Hill, there was panic in the city as shop owners were afraid to open for business, even when the protesters had marched past the areas.
For the three days the protest lasted, vehicular movement within major roads: Azikiwe, Aba-Owerri Road, Okigwe Road, Faulks, Umule, Port Harcourt, and Osisioma Ngwa junction on the Enugu- Port Harcourt expressway, was on snail pace causing commuters to trek to their destinations.
VF gathered that with the exception of the Ehere Modern Market, located along Ikot Ekpene in Obingwa local government area, the protesters ensured that other markets in the city were shut.
Some of the group members who spoke to VF said the protest may continue beyond the week if the Federal Government failed to release their detained Leader and Director, Radio Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu. They warned residents to stock food items as there may be total shut down of all commercial activities in the Enyimba City.
Lamenting the loss he incurred on Monday, the operator of a popular restaurant at the Cemetery Market told VF that he was caught unawares by the closure of the markets as he didn’t reckon with the ‘order’.
The operator who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “The protest has taken a heavy toll on people like us. Yesterday (Monday), I lost over N40,000 because I thought the closure of the market won’t be total. What happened was that during past protests in Aba, we partially opened for business but yesterday was different. I was even calling my customers because my restaurant is usually a beehive of activities from 8am to 1pm which coincided with the period of the protest.”
Another operator of an eatery at the Ariaria International Market who gave her name as Nkechi Anameje, said she reduced the quantity of food she normally cooked and used her back door to let in customers.
Mrs Chino Nwankwo who deals on clothing materials at the Ekeoha Market said she was in a helpless situation. “What can we do since they warned us to close shop? Nobody would like to risk his or her wares because if you try it, you will regret your action because hoodlums can make use of the opportunity to loot your shop,” she said. Read full on Vanguard