It has not been the best of times for residents and business owners around Okporo, Ihioma, Umutanze, Orsu Ihitteukwa, Mgbidi -Awo, Nnenasa, Okwudor among others in Orlu area of Imo State since the violence and killings in the area rose to an alarming level.
According to Daily Post, people hurriedly rush home before 6:00pm to avoid being caught in what has become a regular occurrence of shooting in the zone between gunmen and security operatives.
They said since the guns began to boom in the state, the once bubbly council areas have become ghost towns as persistent attacks and kidnappings have forced many residents to relocate to safer places.
Mr Chidozie Okereke, a shop owner at Banana Junction, Orlu, Imo State, while speaking on the ugly development, said the fear of gunmen in Orlu is the beginning of wisdom.
He said the current security situation has affected businesses, schools, nightlife and transportation in Orlu and entire state.
He explained that the situation is bad to the extent that people sleep with their eyes open so as not to be caught unawares by gunmen.
”I have not opened my shop on any Monday or disobeyed the IPOB sit-at-home order for fear of uncertainty in the air,” he said.
Okereke said there had been reported and unreported cases of abductions in several communities and ransoms were paid before the victims regained freedom, so I can not risk my life for Monday sales.
A senior staff of Imo State University Teaching Hospital, Orlu, who pleaded anonymity, said most staff of the institution and several others located in Orlu do not go to work on Mondays.
The staff said, “There is palpable fear everywhere and people are scared of losing their lives. People now find it difficult to even hold public events because they won’t get the needed attendance and this development is affecting the local economy. When people no longer feel safe coming home for fear of kidnap. Our people now think that security operatives who should protect them are not even secured. Visit the Njaba police station beside a once functional commercial bank along Orlu road, you’ll agree with me that it’s in a sorry state.”
He said the indiscriminate arrest and killings of innocent people by security agents was also a contributing factor why people still obey IPOB's order.
”Some business premises are visited often by security men looking for people the owners don’t know, while parents now warn their children to stay at home. The situation, according to him, is worrying and affecting businesses and the educational sector.
Mrs Chika Amaka, who also runs a popular joint at Iheoma Road, lamented that things had really changed.
She said, “Business is no longer booming. Most young men and women who come to my joint mostly in the evening hours to wine and dine no longer do so for fear of the unknown.
“I open in the morning and close before 6:00pm. Sales have dropped and people no longer come to the joints in droves like before. Everyone is scared of stray bullets which have killed many people. So we only pray the situation improves so that business can pick up.
“Before the security breaches, I used to sell more than 25 cartons of beer and other drinks in a week, but since the security situation went of control, you hardly see anyone here beyond 7:00pm. Business is really bad. Sales have dropped drastically."
Another resident, Mr Nnamdi Ogwazuo, said the situation is almost the same in other parts of the state.
When asked to give reasons why people in the zone still adhered to the sit-at-home order by IPOB despite its suspension, he attributed it to fear.
He warned that if the situation does not change, the economy of the Imo State will be affected.
He said only recently passengers in a commercial bus heading to Lagos from Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, were kidnapped when gunmen intercepted the bus in Isiala Mbano, Imo State.
Ogwazuo said last week, a former Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Lawman Duruji, a businessman and many others were also kidnapped in the state.
However, the Imo State Government has continued to promise that it would improve the worrisome security situation in the state.
Commissioner of Police in the state, Rabiu Hussaini, has also appealed to Imolites for support and collaboration by giving security agencies, especially the police, credible and timely information.