There was tension in Enugu and other major cities in the South-East on Monday over the planned celebration of the Biafra Day on Wednesday (tomorrow).
It was observed that many residents are worried over the possible breakdown of law and order on the day.
There are also concerns over possible clashes between pro-Biafran activists and security agents, a situation which residents fear could lead to the loss of innocent lives and destruction of property.
Pro-Biafran groups, including the Indigenous People of Biafra and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, called for the sit-at-home protest in order to celebrate the anniversary of the defunct Republic of Biafra on May 30, the date the breakaway state declared independence from Nigeria in 1967.
In 2017, the event was marked with a sit-at-home protest ordered by IPOB, which grounded commercial activities in major cities in the zone, as well as Port Harcourt, in Rivers State, and Asaba, in Delta State.
IPOB has again ordered a sit-at-home protest to mark this year’s ‘Biafra Day’, but the other major pro-Biafran groups have different plans.
MASSOB intends to commemorate the anniversary with lectures and a candlelight procession, while the Biafra Zionists Federation has announced plans to raise the flag of the defunct Republic of Biafra at the Enugu State Government House on that day.
In a bid to avert a possible breakdown of law and order, the troops of the 82 Division of the Nigerian Army have engaged in a ‘massive show of force’ by parading through major cities in the geopolitical zone in a long convoy of military vehicles.
Men of the 553 Base Services Group, Nigeria Airforce, Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Services and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps are participating in the show of force.
The Deputy Director, Public Relations, 82 Division, Col. Sagir Musa, explained that the parade of the heavily armed troops was “purely a show of force, aimed at sending a clear message to individuals or groups who intend to cause a breakdown of law and order.”
Musa added, “Law-abiding members of the public are enjoined not to worry about seeing a long convoy of military and paramilitary vehicles and equipment on selected locations across the South-East zone.”
The Enugu State Police Command has also declared its readiness to engage the pro-Biafran agitators.
On May 22, 32 members of the Biafra Independence Movement faction of MASSOB, who were marking their own ‘Biafra Day,’ were arrested while they were about to embark on a parade through Enugu metropolis.
The activists are currently in prison custody, having been remanded after they were arraigned before a magistrate court.
But the pro-Biafran groups have vowed to go ahead with their plans for the Biafra Day.
IPOB has vowed that the South-East and the South-South, as well as other states marked out for the exercise, would be locked down on Wednesday, May 30th.
The secessionist group said nothing would stop the sit-at-home protest.
The group has urged every family, kindred, village, clan and town in the South-East and the other designated areas to remain indoors from 6 pm on Tuesday, May 29, to 6 pm on May 30.