Two sections of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) have proclaimed a lockdown over the region, suggesting that residents of Nigeria’s South-east will be compelled to remain indoors beginning on Monday.
This is the second time in one year that the pro-Biafra organisation will enforce a four-day lockdown on residents of the region.
A similar shutdown occurred in January, following the resumption of IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu’s trial.
In this most recent proclamation of another lockdown, both sides of the organisation said the civil order was announced in solidarity with Mr. Kanu, although they did not agree on the dates for the order.
While one section of the IPOB claims to be under the authority and leadership of Mr. Kanu, another faction is led by Simon Ekpa, who was formerly Mr. Kanu’s follower.
Emma Powerful serves as the spokesman for the side commanded by Mr. Kanu.
Mr. Ekpa has frequently declared allegiance to Mr. Kanu and support for Biafra activism, despite leading the “Autopilots” branch of the IPOB.
During Mr. Kanu’s imprisonment in July 2021, the separatist group appointed Simon Ekpa as the new director of Radio Biafra, the group’s pirate radio station, to replace the detained IPOB leader.
IPOB has utilised the station to broadcast inflammatory messages and anti-Nigerian government propaganda.
However, immediately after Mr. Ekpa’s employment, IPOB announced his dismissal due to his failure to sign the operating guidelines for the radio station.
IPOB deferred its earlier Monday order to remain at home in favour of implementing the injunction only on days Mr. Kanu appears in court.
Despite its suspension, citizens of the five South-eastern states of Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo, Abia, and Anambra observed Monday’s order to remain at home, primarily out of fear.
Recently, gunmen have attacked some residents, motorists, and commuters in the region for leaving their houses on Mondays and other lockdown days.
IPOB leader Kanu is scheduled to appear in court on May 18 for the resumption of his trial, according to Kanu’s attorney Ifanyi Ejiofor.
Mr. Ekpa, the leader of the “Autopilots” branch of IPOB, has been announcing a three-day lockdown in the South-east since early May.
He stated that the lockdown would extend from Monday, May 16, through Wednesday, May 18, inclusive.
“Recall the historic three-day sit-in in Biafraland that demanded the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and Biafra. Biafraland will be under lock and key on the 16th, 17th, and 18th of May 2022, Mr. Ekpa tweeted on May 8.
Mr. Ekpa, a Nigerian-Finnish attorney, has been using his social media accounts, primarily Twitter, to inform people of the lockdown.
He resides in Finland and is allegedly responsible for a voice message telling people of Nigeria’s south-east to remain indoors on the specified dates.
However, the IPOB faction led by Mr. Kanu rejected the group and the three-day lockdown, arguing that civil order would only be maintained on May 18 and May 26.
In a statement released on Saturday by the group’s spokesperson, Emma Powerful, the faction stated that any pronouncement of a sit-at-home order outside of the specified days did not originate from IPOB and urged locals to disregard it.