Enugu State Government has sealed two commercial banks and 107 shops for allegedly observing an “illegal sit-at-home order” on Monday in the state.
The sit-at-home is usually enforced by a faction of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Enugu and other South-east states.
The Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority, led by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Chidiebere Onyia, sealed the premises of the affected businesses on Monday.
A video clip and several photographs which showed the officials and Mr Onyia sealing the facilities have been circulating on various WhatsApp groups.
In the video clip, Mr Onyia, a professor, told reporters that the governor issued the order to seal the shops and banks to stop residents’ compliance to the sit-at-home order and to demonstrate the seriousness of the government to the ban placed on the illegal order in the state.
The SSG said many traders showed up in some markets visited by the officials.
“It is not a punitive but ownership culture, where all of us (should) come together to fight the menace of illegal sit-at-home,” he said.
“We are taking it up not because Mbah is in the business of stopping economic growth but to fight those that think they can intimidate us.
“We have been to ShopRite, Celebrity- a shopping mall – SPAR, (a supermarket) and others. We saw shops that were not open, and we sealed them,” Mr Onyia stated.
Also speaking, Gideon Onyia, the head of the state development agency, said 78 shops were sealed at Ogbete Main Market, while two unnamed commercial banks were also sealed.
He added that five shops at the SPAR and 24 shops at the Old Artisan Market in the state were equally sealed by the agency.
“So, if you failed to obey our rules and directives (of opening on Mondays), we can revoke them or withdraw your approvals and give them to people eager to do business in the state.
“Those whose shops are sealed, we will tell them the penalty, but the governor was magnanimous by saying that the exercise was not punitive,” he said.
Governor Mbah had, in June, banned the Monday sit-at-home in the state, explaining that the civil action was killing the “spirit of entrepreneurship, commerce and creativity” of the Igbo people in the region.
The governor had, earlier this month, ordered all public servants and political office holders in the state to begin reporting to their places of work on Monday or face sanctions.
Within the same week, he threatened to shut schools and markets that observe the civil action in the state.
PREMIUM TIMES, however, reports that the civil action has continued to hold in the state despite the ban by the governor.
Apparently angered by the continued observance of the illegal order, the governor, in mid-July, threatened that, from Monday, 24 July, he would begin shutting shops whose owners fail to open for business on Mondays.
Although IPOB, August 2021, introduced a sit-at-home order every Monday across the South-east to protest the continued detention of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, the separatist group would later suspend the order.
The group said that the order would instead be enforced whenever Mr Kanu, who is facing terrorism trial, appears in court.
A leader of Autopilot, a faction of the IPOB, Simon Ekpa, has, however, continued to declare sit-at-home orders in the region despite the exercise being suspended by the IPOB faction led by Mr Kanu.
Residents of the five South-east states – Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo, Abia and Anambra — have been attacked by gunmen enforcing the civil order for stepping out on Mondays and other days in violation of the order.
IPOB is leading the agitation for an independent state of Biafra, which it wants carved out from the South-east and some parts of the South-south Nigeria.
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