Despite warnings by the Anambra State Government that no markets in the state should be shut or movements hindered by any group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), yesterday shut down Onitsha and environ as they protested the arrest and continued detention of their leader, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu.
One person was also allegedly shot dead during the protest.
Vehicular movement was disrupted in the popular city along major roads of Asaba to Onitsha; Onitsha to Owerri; Uga Junction to Atani in Ogbaru council as well as Onitsha to Aguleri.
Also, movement from Onitsha to neighbouring communities of Nsugbe, Nkwelle Ezunaka, Nkpor, Ogidi, Obosi among others were also disrupted, thereby causing traffic gridlock on all the roads within and outside Onitsha.
Markets in Onitsha and its environs were all shut between 7 am to about 2.30pm.
Some traders who summoned the courage and came within the market perimeter loitered around for some time and went home for fear of attacks.
The Anambra State Government had asked market leaders, traditional rulers and Presidents-General through text messages to warn their subjects and members not to disrupt activities or hold rallies.
This is to ensure that business activities in the markets, the major revenue earner to the government, were not disrupted.
But the traders trading on the part of caution could not take the risk of opening their shops.
Instead, some of them were seen in the streets discussing the protest.
The major markets: Onitsha Main Market, Ochanja Central Market Onitsha, New Tire Market Nkpor, New Auto Spare Parts Market Nkpor, Building Materials Market Ogidi, Ugwuagba Market Obosi, Electronics Market Onitsha, Bridge Head Market Onitsha that has over 21 markets affiliated to it and other small markets in and outside Onitsha, were all shut down.
Even shops along the streets of Onitsha, and its environs and Awka Road, New Market Road, Old Market Road, Oguta Road, Limca Road, Iweka Road and Modebe Road, Sokoto Road and Haruna Street lock-up shops were also seen under lock and keys.
The IPOB members numbering in their thousands gathered at Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu Statue by Niger Bridge Head, also known as Odumegwu Ojukwu Gateway, Niger Bridge Head Onitsha chanting and dancing Pro Ojukwu and Biafran songs, and from there marched peacefully down to Upper Iweka Flyover and later to Upper Iweka Flyover to Onitsha-Owerri Road, to Nkpor Junction, Ochanja Central Market, Onitsha Main Market, Old and New Market Roads Onitsha.
They chanted anti-government, Police, Army and Navy songs, demanding the release of Mr. Kanu, whom they said is being incarcerated for over three weeks now, and the continued arrest and detention of their members and actualization of Biafra activists.
They defied police presence on the major roads and streets of Onitsha, and they were cautious of the behavior of their members to the road users and petty traders who wanted to cash in on the closure of markets and mega stores and shops to do brisk business.
Those who wanted to be unruly on road users were promptly cautioned by their leaders to behave making the protest largely peaceful.
The Police Area Commander in Onitsha Mr. Philip Ezekiel, however, absolved the police of involvement in the death of the alleged dead IPOB.