Abia State government on Monday described the lingering sit-at-home reportedly endorsed and illegally enforced by a group of hoodlums hiding under the identity of agitators in the southeast region to cause chaos in the state as unacceptable.
“The state government states categorically that it is unacceptable to allow any individual or group to instil fear in our people to the extent of negatively impacting the education, economic, religious, business and peaceful activities of citizens,” it said on Monday morning.
The government warned that it will not allow such illegality to affect innocent school children who are billed to write the compulsory English examination of the West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE) on Monday, September 13 and Tuesday, September 14.
The government, through the Commissioner for Information, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, said that while it does not begrudge any citizen the right to sit at home or go about their normal duties, as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others, it cannot afford to sit idly and watch the future of its children jeopardized and the economic well-being of its people further wrecked over a matter it believes can be resolved judicially or through political negotiations.
“We cannot continue to cut our nose to spite our face. In the light of the above, 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.
“Our people are also hereby advised to promptly report any individual or group that attempts to harass, molest, intimidate or stop law-abiding citizens, especially our school children, from exercising their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of movement to the police through the following numbers: 08035415405,08079210003, 0807921000 and 08079210005,” he said.
The government also instructed the leaders of all market and transport unions in the state to ensure that markets are open and transport vehicles deployed by their members for regular activities on Monday and beyond unless otherwise advised by the government.
It warned that any market that is closed or transport union that fails to operate will be closed and disbanded, respectively, by the government till further notice.
“Abia government implores leaders at all levels, members of the clergy, and all parents, to support and pray for the resounding success of Abia school children who have maintained the first position in WASCE, back to back, for four years as they go to their various centres to write their exams,” he added.
Kalu said that as a responsible government, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu-led administration will continue to explore all avenues to ensure peaceful resolution of the issues that have led to the agitations by the concerned non-state actors.
He, however, said that government will not shirk its responsibility to the majority of Abia people who are also suffering silently out of no fault of theirs due to the sit at home.