Within two years in office, security has remained Governor, Soludo’s biggest headache…

Anambra State governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo will clock two years in office on 17 March, 2024.

Within the two years, security has remained his biggest headache. The challenge preceded him in office as the activities of gunmen using secession as a cover started during the second term of his predecessor, Chief Willie Obiano.

In 2020, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) introduced the Monday sit-at-home- an exercise which was meant to be a civil disobedience to protest the arrest and rendition of its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu from Kenya.

The exercise has crippled the economy of the South-East, with many well meaning people of the zone begging for an end to it.

This led the group to call off the exercise in 2021, but a splinter group of secessionists led by Finland-based separatist leader, Simon Ekpa, insisted on enforcing the exercise.

Three years after IPOB called off the exercise, the entire South East zone has continued to remain a shadow of itself every Monday, as most parts of the zone, especially the hinterlands fail to open for businesses.

In Anambra, most schools, banks and other businesses still do not operate on Mondays, while markets that open as a result of government orders rarely have traders coming out.

Meanwhile, security agencies in the state have intensified efforts to secure residents on Mondays from dissidents who may want to molest them, while also assuring them of their safety.

On the part of the state governor, the state government has constantly made announcements in the state government-owned radio station, Anambra State Broadcasting Service (ABS), begging people to open their businesses on Mondays.

Last Monday, the Commissioner of Police in Anambra, CP Aderemi Adeoye in an attempt to boost the confidence of the people visited Onitsha to assess the security deployment and level of compliance.

He also interacted with shuttle drivers plying Upper Iweka Road to find out their challenges in returning to business on Mondays.

The Commissioner, who spoke with journalists after the exercise, revealed that the Anambra State government has lifted curfew in Nnewi, Onitsha, and Ogbaru.

Governor Soludo had in the wake of regular attacks in the state, placed curfew in some local government areas, restricting tricycles, shuttle buses and motorcycles from operating in the affected areas.

But Adeoye, revealing the lifting of the curfew imposed by the State Government, urged them to be law-abiding, vigilant, and promptly report acts of crime to the nearest police station or call the Command’s Control room. ”

“Doing this shows the act of patriotism to the nation and in return your safety is our responsibility,” Adeoye said.

Police is not the only security agency in the state working to restore normalcy on Mondays.

The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Anambra State recently deployed its personnel to protect residents and critical infrastructure on Mondays.

The State Commandant, Olatunde Maku stated that the deployment was aimed at safeguarding lives, property, and critical national assets across the state.

In the deployment, operatives were dispatched to banks, markets, parks and select schools.

Maku said, “It is to build confidence for a seamless return to business on Mondays across the state and reassure the public that NSCDC in synergy with other security agencies have occupied the public space to send strong signals to misguided elements that it would not be business as usual because the Command will deny them any opportunity to perpetuate crime in the state.

“We have reviewed the current security situation in the state, and reinforced our operations with a robust patrol system that can checkmate any amoebic modus non-state actors might use to oppress members of the public.

“We are determined to protect lives and property, maintain effective serenity, and suppress the antics of the underworld personalities.

“The deployment of personnel saw the area’s dominance of operatives at various critical national assets and banks across the state.”

Maku emphasized that the deployed officers would be civil, professional, and firm, while adhering to established protocols.

The NSCDC also encouraged the public to report suspicious individuals or activities. This collaboration, combined with sustained operations, aims to revive economic activity and deter potential misconduct.

“The confidence building attracted the opening of more banks from last week’s reportage of two banks to five banks this week, with full operations ongoing.

“The success of the operation is an indication that members of the public are tired of being forced to sit at home. We appealed to the people to assist the Command with vital information on the movement and activities of any suspicious person or group of persons who might pose danger to their security within their respective neighbourhood.

“We encourage the people to go about their respective legitimate business as the operation would be sustained to revive the crumbled economic activities in the state and keep the unwanted miscreants off the state,” Maku stated

Meanwhile, our Agent took time to move around Awka, the Anambra State capital, and found that despite efforts by security agencies, as well as frequent radio announcements by the Anambra State government, many business places still remained deserted.

Though Eke Awka, the major market in the state capital, opens for business, most traders do not open their shops, just as only few customers usually come to the market.

Most motor parks in the state capital also operate skeletally, just as travellers usually do not turn out when compared to other days.

A commercial driver, who gave his name as Mr John Eze said: “I don’t blame passengers who do not come out to travel on Monday.

“Awka may be open for business, but there are other places you go to and you will know that the sit-at-home is still very effective.

“I’m loading to go to Nnewi but once your vehicle drives past Awka, you will see that all the towns around before you get to Nnewi are all dead of activities.”

Also, financial institutions have continually observed the sit at home order too.

During the early days of the exercise, there have been attacks on banks in the state.

Also, banks had at one time been threatened by separatist leader, Simon Ekpa to bring down Nigerian flags in their premises, so long as they are operating in Igboland.

Many banks obeyed the order out of fear, not wanting to be the next target of the insurgents.

A bank executive in Awka who didn’t want his name or bank mentioned told our agent that: “banks do not operate like traders in the market. That is why each time there is a circular from the state government for all banks to commence operation on Mondays, it is ignored.

“Traders in the market are the owners of their goods, they can decide to gamble. As for banks, the funds there belong to the public. If you lose it, what will you tell the people who bank with you?

“Another thing is that as far as the head offices of banks have not directed the regional managers to instruct the branch managers to open their banks, there is nothing that can make banks heed those state government’s circulars to open banks on Mondays.

“If you as a regional manager or bank manager dares to open your bank on Monday and anything happens, you may be in trouble.

“So, for now, we operate the central command. If the head office asks us to open, we will obey them and know that whatever happens, we are following their instructions.”

Meanwhile, there have been arguments about whether freeing the leader of IPOB, Kanu, who has been described as a prisoner of conscience can restore peace in the region.

While others believe that his freedom can reposition things, many others think that with the impunity with which rival separatist, Simon Ekpa has flouted Kanu’s orders, he may be building himself an empire, which may lead him to counter even Kanu, who is known as the Supreme Leader, when he is released.

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