The commercial city of Aba was totally shut down Wednesday in observance of the sit-at-home order issued by the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to mark the 2018 Biafra Day celebration.
However, the situation was different in the capital city of Umuahia where business activities were in full swing.
Aba was a shadow of itself as all the markets did not witness business activities. The famous Ariaria International market was shunned by traders who did not turn up to open their shops for business activities.
The streets of Aba were also deserted as commercial transporters parked their vehicles at home, making it impossible for people to commute from one part of the city to another or to move out of the city.
Commercial banks in Aba also shut their gates against customers, fearful of likely eruption of violence.
Apparently fearful of possible outbreak of violence, parents kept their children/wards at home thereby depriving both public and private schools their normal academic activities. Teachers who turned up for work could not teach as they found the classrooms empty.
“As public servants, we are bound to report for work but we can’t force pupils to come to school if their parents did not allow them,” said a primary school teacher who did not want her name mentioned.
She noted that though “the idea of remembering Biafra heroes is good, we cannot observe it as public holiday since government has not sanctioned it”.
However unlike in the last edition of the sit-at-home directive where residents of Umuahia largely observed it, the situation was different this time around with the city bustling with business activities.
On their part, banks were apprehensive while attending to customers. Some banks even closed their gates in the early hours of the day before they later threw open their doors for businesses when they observed that the coast was clear.
The police and the army had on Monday mounted a joint “show of force” procession around the major roads in the capital city displaying armoured personnel carriers (APC) and other gadgets and security equipment.
With their harrowing experience of the Operation Python Dance carried out by the army on September 14, 2017 during which many young men and women were killed at the residence of the IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, Umuahia residents are still apprehensive of any action that could attract military response.
It was observed that some private schools that opened in the morning later asked their pupils to return home to avoid danger should violence break out later in the day. But as at press time, the city was calm with people going about their normal businesses.