Economic activities in the commercial city of Onitsha, Anambra state, south-east Nigeria were shutdown Tuesday May 30th, in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary, of the declaration of secession of Biafra which led to a terrible civil war in 1967.
Shops, schools and offices in Onitsha, regarded by many as the economic hub of south eastern Nigeria remained closed at the request of the Biafra independence movements, to express their dissatisfaction with the Nigerian government.
Last year, more than 60 people were killed during the celebrations, according to Amnesty International.
"Biafra is a spirit, it is in our hearts" says Ebere Eli, a driver in Onitsha.
“We are remembering those who have lost their lives because of agitation of Biafra. So there is no work. I went to my business in Asaba and there is no business. Everywhere we are locked-up” said Justine, a market woman who plies her trade in neighbouring Delta state.
Anambra and Delta states are part of the other states in the predominantly Igbo south-eastern part of the country that renewed Biafran independence movements want to secede from the Nigerian government.
The calls to secede from Nigeria have multiplied in recent years, especially after the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu, the Leader of the movement for independence, for the indigenous peoples of the Biafra (IPOB).
He was released at the end of April on bail, but his 18 months of detention have fanned anger, and the feeling of exclusion of Biafra
“Biafra is a spirit, it is in our hearts” says Ebere Eli, a driver in Onitsha.
The police had earlier warned against protests saying it would deal “accordingly” to suppress any unrest.
The Nigerian government have insisted that the protest mounted a threat to the unity of the country.
Around three million people died from starvation caused by the total blockade of the region by the Nigerian government, after almost 3 years of civil war between 1967 and 1970.
Biafran forces then under the motto of “No-victor, No-vanquished” surrendered to the Nigerian Federal Military Government (FMG), and Biafra was reintegrated into Nigeria.