The Enugu State Government on Monday shut 106 shops and two banks for allegedly observing Monday’s sit-at-home order by a faction of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported the exercise was carried out by officials of the state government and Enugu Capital Territory Development Authority (ECTDA).
Gov. Peter Mbah had last Monday threatened to sanction shop owners and banks that refused to open for business in complience with the illegal sit-at-home order.
Mbah issued the threat, while monitoring the situation in major markets in Enugu, the capital city.
According to him, traders who continued to obey the order up until July 24, stood to lose their shops to serious-minded businessmen.
The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof. Chidiebere Onyia, who led the exercise, said the action was in line with the governor’s warning.
Onyia said the governor’s intention was not to punish businesses, but to encourage and inculcate the spirit of ‘no sit-at-home’ in traders.
“It is not a punitive, but ownership culture, where all of us come together to fight the menace of illegal sit-at-home in the state.
“We are taking it up not because Mbah is in the business of stopping economic growth but to fight those that think they can intimidate us,” he said.
Onyia further said that the task force created by the State Government would be in the markets next Monday to continue to monitor the situation.
“We have been to ShopRite, Celebrity – a shopping mall – SPAR and others, we saw shops that were not opened and we sealed them.
“That is why ECTDA is here and the owners should go through a process to get them reopened,” he said.
He said that 85 per cent of traders showed up in the markets visited.
The SSG said that the governor had made a commitment by providing security and buses at specific places to convey workers to the state Secretariat.
He said the measure became necessary because the state was tired of losing significant revenue by working for only four days a week.
On why he unsealed Easter Shop earlier, Onyia said the management of the mall gave an assurance to open every Monday.
Speaking with newsmen at the end of the exercise, the Head of ECTDA, Mr Gideon Onyia, said that the affected shops were both corporate and privately owned.
He said that 78 shops were sealed at the Ogbete Market, plus two new generation banks, five shops at SPAR and 24 shops at the Old Artisan Market.
“So if you failed to obey our rules and directives, we can revoke them or withdraw your approvals and give them to people who are eager to do business in the state.
“Those whose shops are sealed, we will tell them the penalty but the governor was magnanimous for saying that the exercise was not punitive,” Onyia said.
Meanwhile, some of the traders said they opened for business on Mondays but recorded low sales due to the absence of customers.
A trader, who identified himself simply as Nnamdi, said he usually wasted his transport fares to and from his shop on Mondays without making any sales.
Also, Mrs Ngozi Oji, attributed the traders absence from the markets to fear of being attacked by gunmen.
Oji, therefore, urged the government to provide adequate security in and around the market to allay the traders’ fear.