The enforcement of the sit-at-home order declared by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, took a bloody twist yesterday in Nsukka as gunmen enforcing the order killed two persons at Nkpologwu, Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State.
Three persons were also injured in the attack.
The sit-at-home, which grounded the entire South East zone, was in solidarity with the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who was brought to court in Abuja yesterday.
The attack at Nkpologu occurred as early morning worshipers at St Theresa of Calcutta Catholic Church, Awada Onitsha, had a raw deal in the hands of gunmen who claimed to be enforcers of the sit-at-home stormed the church and ordered the worshipers to disperse.
This is even as the enforcers created tension in Aba, Abia State, as suspected members of IPOB, enforcing the sit-at-home order chased motorists and residents away.
Meantime, the detained leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, yesterday, accused the Federal Government of deliberately denying him the necessary facilities to defend the treasonable felony charge it preferred against him.
A senior security personnel in the local government who confirmed this incident to Vanguard on condition of anonymity said the incident happened close to Adada Dam in Nkpologwu.
The source explained that one of the victims, identified as ‘Deri Nwa Mama,’ from Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area of Enugu State, was a member of the Neighbourhood Watch group in Opanda Community, also in the council area.
The source explained that the body of ‘Deri Nwa Mama,’ was burnt after he was killed by the gunmen.
Vanguard gathered that three other victims were tied to trees within the scene of the incident and given severe machete cuts.
“Unknown gunmen have just shot two persons dead at Nkpologwu. We are on our way to recover their remains as I speak with you. Three others were tied on trees within the area and given severe machete cuts. It happened close to Adada Dam,” the source said.
When contacted, the spokesperson of Enugu State Police Command, Daniel Ndukwe, said he was in a meeting and could not respond to enquires.
Enforcers storm Catholic Church, disperse worshipers
The boys, wielding sticks said they were members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, adding that the worshipers had no reason to step out of their houses on a day the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu was appearing in court.
A female worshiper who said her house is three buildings from the church said the invasion of the church by the boys caused pandemonium as many people ran helter-skelter, adding that it was the wisdom of the parish priest and the celebrant at the Mass that saved the situation.
She said: “This morning (yesterday) I went for the 5:30 am morning Mass in my church, St Theresa of Calcutta Parish in Awada, it is close to Ukaegbu junction.
“We were halfway into the Mass when some group of boys suspected to be members of IPOB entered the church. They were carrying sticks and cans and went straight to the alter.
“They approached our parish priest, Rev Fr Joseph, and asked him why he was celebrating Mass on a day their master was going to court. They were quite a number of them and were visibly angry.
“Everybody in the church took to their heels. There would have been a stampede because there were a lot of people in the morning Mass today. I ran to a building close to the church.
“Father Joseph told them we were holding Mass today to pray for the release of Nnamdi Kanu. He used diplomacy to talk to them, and even asked them if they were really for Ndi Igbo or against Ndi Igbo? They now said okay and if that was so, the people in the church were for them.
“They called back everyone to continue the Mass since they were convinced that the church people were Biafrans.
“Some of us were so afraid that we could not return, so we went home from there. They apologized to the priest and left.
“The same group went out and saw a tricycle rider. Nobody knew why the man was outside because on sit-at-home days, one hardly saw tricycles outside. They beat up the man and set his tricycle ablaze”.
It was gathered that as the information of what happened at the church went round, many people who tried to travel very early to beat the sit at home, had to turn back.
Suspected IPOB members attack motorists, traders in Abia
Eyewitnesses told Vanguard that the suspected IPOB members dressed in black attire with face masks had attacked motorists and roadside traders at the Okigwe road and Ama Ogbonna areas.
There was a stampede at the ever-busy Ama Ogbonna junction as some Keke operators who had gone out early morning were chased away.
The news of the attack spread through the city forcing motorists and roadside traders who had already started a business to scamper to safety.
All the markets in the city like the Ariaria International, Ngwa road, Cemetery, Ekeoha, and Aba Waterside were all deserted as traders stayed away. The waterside slaughter was alleged to have received a letter from unknown persons warning butchers not to open the slaughter or risk attack.
Motor parks, schools, filling stations and banks and government offices were also shut.
Kanu kicks against fresh charge, accuses FG of engaging in trial by ambush
Kanu, through his team of lawyers led by led by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ozekhome, decried that over one month after his case was fixed for trial, FG, chose to amend the charge against him, barely 24 hours to the scheduled court hearing.
Ozekhome, SAN, who appeared to take over Kanu’s defence team on Tuesday, told the court that FG served the 15-count amended charge on them, late in the evening on Monday.
“My lord, the proposed amended charge was served on us yesterday evening. As I speak to you my lord, the Defendant who was just brought in has not even seen the charge which he is being told to enter his plea.
“With due respect, that is not Justice. It is ambushing. I know that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, allows them to amend, but this is the 6th amendment they are making, and each time they do it, they serve us a day to the hearing, just to frustrate the trial”, Ozekhome lamented.
Besides, he noted that the proof of evidence, as well as extra-judicial statements of witnesses, were not attached to the amended charge.
He argued that his client must be furnished with such “evidential materials”, before he could be called upon to enter his defence to the charge, stressing that going ahead with the proceeding, would amount to a breach of Kanu’s right to fair hearing guaranteed under section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
Ozekhome further complained that contrary to an earlier order of the court, the Department of State Services, DSS, repeatedly denied the IPOB leader, access to his visitors and lawyers.
“My lord, on December 21 when I visited him, I was totally stripped of everything, including my wristwatch and socks. I had to joke with them that they should also remove my pant.
“They have also taken his blood samples over 21 times and yet, till now, they have not told him what is wrong.
“The Defendant has seizures occasionally. We don’t want him to die, we want him to be alive to stand his trial”, Ozekhome added.
On his part, the Prosecution team, led by Mr. Shuaibu Labaran from the Federal Ministry of Justice, said he was not opposed to the court granting a short adjournment to enable the defence lawyers to study the charge.
He however told the court that the charge was served on the Defendant around 9:45 am on Monday.
“Because we are not persecutors but prosecution, we are not opposed to his request for time”, Labaran added.
Meanwhile, following Ozekhome’s complaint, trial Justice Binta Nyako, before adjourning the case till Wednesday, ordered the DSS to allow Kanu to have a change of cloth.
“I don’t want to see him in this cloth again. This one is almost off-white. Also, make sure that you allow him to exercise and give him a good mattress”, Justice Nyako ordered.”
Ozekhome had in a brief chat with Vanguard, said his decision to take over Kanu’s defence, was based on the fact that he is facing an incompetent charge.
“Right to self-determination is inalienable. It is guaranteed under both the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the African Charter on Peoples’ Rights. I am here today because I believe that the charge against Defendant is baseless”, he added.
FG’s amended charges against Kanu can’t stand—Ejimakor
Mr. Aloy Ejimakor, Special Counsel to Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, yesterday dismissed the latest move by the federal government to increase the count charge against Kanu from seven to 17 as a dilatory tactic to buy time.
Ejimakor who took to his Twitter handle lampooned the federal government and said that the move which came so late could not stand.
He argued that the extraordinary rendition of the IPOB Leader “is a perpetual barrier to his prosecution.
“The latest amendment coming so late on the eve of the trial smacks of dilatory tactics.
“Ultimately, these changes won’t stick because the extraordinary rendition of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is a perpetual barrier to his prosecution. You can’t put something on nothing. That’s the law”, Ejimakor tweeted.
S-East completely grounded
The entire southeast was yesterday, completely grounded, following the sit-at-home order.
Reports from across the states showed that all markets, rural and urban in major cities were shut down, while inter and intracity vehicular movement completely ceased.
Reports reaching Vanguard showed everywhere was grounded.
From Enugu to Ebonyi; to Anambra, Imo and Abia, the story is the same.
In Imo, a native of the community and former Chairman of Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, Ferdinand Ibecheodo, said: “I was at the village market Ekeukwu a few minutes ago (yesterday), to buy bread when somèbody came and asked everybody to leave. He said it was a bit of advice and that in one hour’s time, a group would come and it would not be a tea party.
“Similarly, the popular Orie Mbaise, at the border of Lorji and Ife, a weekly market, where the people buy and sell, is like a graveyard. The lockdown is total in our area.”
In Owerri municipality, markets, filling stations, schools, as well as most government offices and establishments, remained under lock and key.
Dry roads as residents lockdown Umuahia
In Umuahia, the capital city of Abia State was a ghost town as residents remained indoors.
From the morning hours till the time of filing this report, economic and commercial activities were paralyzed as markets are street shops in the capital city remained shut down.
The roads were also dry except for occasional vehicular and human movements.
Schools did not open as teachers and parents stayed back home with their children while banks also remained shut down.
The exercise was, however, peaceful as there was no incidence of a security breach in any part of the state.
Residents stay indoors in Ebonyi
In Ebonyi, the usual human and vehicular movements were not recorded as people were hardly seen outside their homes carrying out one activity or the other.
Most schools, both private and public did not open for academic activities. Banks, filling stations, shopping malls, shops along major streets, motor parks, POS centres, mechanic workshops, among others did not open as at the time of this report.
Total compliance in Onitsha, Nnewi
Onitsha the commercial city and Nnewi the industrial town of Anambra State, yesterday totally complied with the sit-at-home directed by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, to protest the extrajudicial rendition and trial of its leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, in Nigeria.
Federal and State government institutions, in the state, were under lock and key including hospitals that rendered skeletal services particularly patents under admission in them.
Street markets and roadside shops in the two business towns were all closed as petty traders and hawkers of edibles were nowhere to be seen.
Enugu, Imo streets deserted
Enugu metropolis and other parts of Enugu State witnessed total lockdown on Tuesday as residents observed another sit-at-home order.
Vanguard also monitored Owerri metropolis and saw that both human and vehicular movements were not in operation.
Also, banks, shops, markets, and schools obeyed the sit-at-home order of the IPOB.
Troops dislodge IPOB/ESN stronghold in Anambra
Meantime, the Nigerian Army said its troops in joint operations conducted with other security agencies have dislodged a stronghold of IPOB and its armed affiliate, Eastern Security Network (ESN) at Lilu Forest in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State.
A statement by Brig Gen Onyema Nwachukwu, Director of Army Public Relations said “The operations, which was conducted in the early hours of Monday 17 January 2022, led to the neutralization of some gunmen in a firefight that ensued.”