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Sit-at-home: Hoodlums set vehicles ablaze in Anambra, Enugu

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Hoodlums suspected to be members of the Eastern Security Network, on Monday, stormed the Ekwulobia and Oko areas in the Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State and set two vehicles ablaze.

The vehicles were a private Toyota Sienna and an unidentified commercial vehicle.

The hoodlums were said to be enforcing the sit-at-home order of the Indigenous People of Biafra in the South-East region.

Although IPOB had announced the cancellation of the order, inadequate security and fear of attacks continued to make the people to observe the sit-at-home on Mondays.

When our correspondent visited the scene of Monday’s incident, he observed that the Toyota Sienna was burnt at Ekwulobia, while the other vehicle was set ablaze in Okoh.

According to an eyewitness, the occupants of the Toyota Sienna were returning to their various bases after the Yuletide.

They were said to have set out early in a bid to escape the sit-at-home restriction, while the unidentified commercial vehicle was loading passengers.

The eyewitness said the hoodlums ordered the occupants of the vehicles out before setting them ablaze, an action that caused commotion in the areas.

When contacted, the state police spokesman, DSP Toochukwu Ikenga, said the Commissioner of Police had ordered reinforcement teams from the command headquarters to intensify patrol of major cities and towns like Onitsha, Nnewi, Ihiala, Aguata, Awka and other communities in the state.

Ikenga stated, “The reinforcement teams, which comprise of police mobile operatives, counter terrorism units, Special Forces and other tactical teams are to address any security concern that may arise and to forestall any breakdown of law and order in the state.

“This order follows a reported case of arson around the boundary between Ekwulobia and Okoh around 7am today (Monday).

“Police operatives are currently on the ground and normalcy has been restored in the area. The situation is been monitored.”

Our correspondent, who went round the state on Monday, observed a total shutdown of activities in cities like Onitsha, Nnewi, Ihiala, Obosi and some parts of Awka.

Traders did not open their shops but gathered around their business premises and were seen discussing sundry issues.

Schoolchildren were observed playing football on the streets, as banks did not also open for business.

A student of the University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Njideka Offor, lamented that the sit-at-home had disrupted the academic calendar of the institution, adding that it had choked up activities as lecturers and students had to combined a lot of academic activities to meet up for the lost time.

An Onitsha-based civil servant, who works in Awka, Esther Udo, said Mondays had become a forced holiday as a result of absence of means of transportation.

However, the state Commissioner for Information, Mr Don Adinuba, said there was no sit-at-home as the government had told the people to go about their lawful business.

“The government has mobilised adequate security to ensure safety of lives and property, and it is now left for the people to go about their normal lawful business,” he stated.

In Enugu State, the police said they had brought under control the security situation in the state following a pandemonium in the state capital on Monday around 9am around Okpara Avenue, Old Park, Coal Camp, New Market, Agbani Road and Emene, among others.

The chaotic situation, which forced people to close their shops and desert the streets, followed widespread rumours that some hoodlums enforcing the sit-at-home in some parts of the state had burnt vehicles and tricycles of people allegedly violating the order.

Enforcers of the sit-at-home were also reported to have extended their activities to the Enugu end of the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway, making bonfires and shooting indiscriminately.

Sources told one of our correspondents that many motorists and traders at the Ogbete Main Market were injured following the stampede at Old Park around 9am, while several vehicles were damaged in the process.

A senior police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said security had been beefed up around the Enugu Maximum Correctional Centre located at the Old Park area to ensure that there was no attack on the facility.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Daniel Ndukwe, said security agencies in the state had brought the situation under control.

“Following the alleged cases of sporadic shootings at Topland Amechi-Awkunanaw, snatching and burning of a Toyota Sienna vehicle and a tricycle at Umueze and Agbani areas of the Nkanu West LGA of the state by miscreants alleged to be enforcing an illegal sit-at-home order, which caused panic within Enugu metropolis in the morning hours of today, the police and other security operatives have been duly deployed to further thwart the untoward activities of the miscreants in the state.”

In Imo State, the capital, Owerri, witnessed normal economic activities, but residents remained indoor in Orlu and other adjourning towns.

Banks, shops and other commercial premises remained under lock and key on Monday in Orlu.

The few people, who came out to board buses to various destinations, were disappointed as there were no vehicles to convey them.

The sit-at-home was, however, not observed in Umuahia, Abia State, as business owners opened up their shops, while vehicular movement was uninterrupted.

As directed by the state government, private and public schools re-opened on Monday in Umuahia, but in Aba, pupils stayed at home out of fear.

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