Despite the cancellation of an order by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) for a one-week sit-at-home across the southeast, many residents of Awka, the capital city of Anambra State, were too scared to embark on their daily activities on Friday.
The majority of the shopping complexes, petrol stations and markets between the Amansea area and the junction before Nnamdi Azikwe University (UNIZIK) were closed, as FIJ reporters observed in the morning.
At UNIZIK junction, Mobil Filling Station was open, while Sinai Oil and Gas Limited and Femas Filling Station were completely shut.
A highlight of the moment was when a convoy of two police patrol vehicles stopped at Mobil to refill their Siena cars. Residents stared at the officers from a distance.
Subsequently, several convoys of heavily-armed security officers, including the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), were stationed at different places around the capital city.
Whilst there had been viral videos on social media in the last few days about the migration of Anambra residents to other neighbouring states like Enugu and Abia, all the transport companies at UNIZIK junction were closed on Friday.
Daniel Omemma, a commercial driver with Transport Company of Anambra State (TRACAS), told FIJ that he was shocked that there were no travellers to ply the road, even though his company was willing to make some trips for the day.
“I want to work, but nobody wants to travel again because of the IPOB sit-at-home order,” he said.
“I was still in Owerri, Imo State, yesterday, but everywhere is scanty today. People are even scared to vote because of the heavy military presence.”
He also feared that the heavy military presence was discouraging people from leaving their houses.
“With all these guns, an ordinary man cannot go out. Even, some of my family members cannot go out,” he told FIJ.
Omemma added that he would exercise his franchise in Saturday’s state gubernatorial election if he had the access to the polling unit.
IPOB declared a five-day sit-at-home order, starting on Friday, but backed out on Thursday, with Emma Powerful, the group’s public relations officer, saying the order was withdrawn in order to allow the citizens of Anambra to vote.
His statement partly read: “The people of Anambra State should go out en masse and peacefully exercise their franchise come November 6, 2021, and accordingly choose a leader of their choice and should not be intimidated by anybody, group of persons or security agents.”
FIJ had exclusively reported that the Nigeria Police marked (IPOB) and its combatant arm, the Eastern Security Network (ESN) as the top threats to the election.
Be the first to receive special investigative reports and features in your inbox.