Transport companies in Cross River State have suggested that they may refrain from operating their buses on the route through the southeast part of Nigeria in response to an ultimatum issued by Simon Ekpa, a Biafra agitator based in Finland. Ekpa’s ultimatum calls for a total shutdown of the southeast region from 31 July to 14 August 2023 as part of a sit-at-home civil disobedience movement.
The transport companies cited concerns about the safety of their buses, passengers, and drivers in light of the ongoing insecurity in the southeast, where they have faced attacks and dwindling passenger traffic. This decision comes as a precautionary measure to avoid exposing their operations to unnecessary risks, given the current volatile situation in the region.
Simon Ekpa’s statement, released earlier, demanded the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and called for Biafrans to observe the sit-at-home civil disobedience in protest. The shutdown is intended to challenge the legitimacy of the Nigerian government’s representation in the Biafran territory and prepare for a self-referendum.
The transport companies also mentioned that the removal of fuel subsidies and resulting hyperinflation have affected their operations and led to reduced passenger traffic. They appealed to the federal government to restore fuel subsidies, which they believed would alleviate the burdens faced by common people.
Despite the threats from Ekpa’s group, the Assistant Inspector General of Police for Zone 9 Umuahia, Echeng Echeng, assured that security agencies are prepared to tackle illegal sit-at-home orders and other criminal activities in the South-East geopolitical zone. The Police Public Relations Officer in Cross River State, Irene Ugbo, urged transporters not to suspend operations, asserting that security agencies are capable of maintaining control over the situation.
In summary, transport companies in Cross River State are considering avoiding the southeast route during the sit-at-home period due to safety concerns, while Simon Ekpa’s group continues to call for civil disobedience in the region.
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