Due to the alleged attacks on northerners residing in the South-East and parts of Rivers State in the South-South, Ndigbo residing in the northern region are living in palpable fear for fear of reprisal attacks.
PUNCH observed in Adamawa, Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi, Nasarawa, Sokoto, Katsina and Plateau states that men of the Nigerian Army, the police, the Department of State Services, the Nigerian Airforce and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps were patrolling several areas in the states on Friday, September 15.
For instance, in Katsina, Katsina State capital, as men of the police, the Nigerian Army, NAF, DSS and the NSCDC were patrolling the streets in Hilux trucks.
Some were seen stationed at the popular Kofar Kaoran Roundabout.
Some residents, who spoke said the situation was unusual, adding that it was one they had not witnessed in a long time.
A resident, Musa Ibrahim, said, “Everyone is panicking. The security situation is tight. The way security operatives are patrolling the city is very unusual. I think the security agencies are trying to preempt any attack.”
There was also the heavy presence of security officers in many flashpoints in the Jos metropolis, Plateau State capital, particularly at the Hill Station Junction, Old Bukuru Park and Ahmadu Bello Way.
The spokesperson for the Plateau State Police Command, Matthias Tyopev, disclosed that the command had deployed 488 police officers in all the flashpoints in Jos.
The Commissioner of Police, Kaduna State Police Command, Agyole Abe, also said more men had been deployed to monitor various areas in the state.
Across the North, several shops belonging to the Igbo were closed while those who opened for business only did so hours after the Jumat prayers.
Some Igbo who spoke said their experiences during periods of religious or ethnic crisis in the past showed that Northerners usually attacked them after returning from Jumat prayers.
It was also gathered that some Igbo had started fleeing the North for fear of reprisals.
Recall on Tuesday, some members of the Indigenous People of Biafra had reportedly clashed with the Hausa community in Oyibo Local Government Area of Rivers State, allegedly killing a northerner.
The incident had led to clashes between the two ethnic groups in the community, leaving several persons injured. The clashes were said to be connected to the Operation Python Dance II currently going on in the South-East by the military to curtail the activities of IPOB.
During the week, a video had emerged showing armed IPOB fighters searching for Hausas in buses in the South-East, apparently to attack them.
On Thursday, the Public Relations Officer, Abia State Police Command, Geoffrey Ogbona, confirmed that the Hausa community in the state was being targeted by IPOB fighters, but assured that normalcy would be restored.
However, it was observed that in Katsina, Katsina State capital, on Friday, many non-indigenes, particularly those from the South-East, did not open their shops for business.
In the busiest parts of the city, especially Kofar Kaoran, Sabon Line, Yahaya Madaki Way, IBB Way and Sabon Station, several shops were locked. An Igbo, who owns a bookshop at Kofar Kaoran, Mr. Theophilus Testimony, said he had directed all his shop attendants not to come to work on Friday.
“The state government has assured us of safety, but I’m not ready to take chances. My prayer is that the whole issue will be resolved soon. After all, Nigeria belongs to all of us and poverty does not know any ethnicity,” he said.
Another Igbo who owns a chemist, Andrew Eze, said he was scared there might be reprisals against them.