Security has been beefed up in Imo over fears resulting from a sit-at-home order by the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) led by Nnamdi Kanu.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent who monitored the situation reports that Owerri malls suddenly halted activities on Saturday at about 12.30 pm am as against the normal 8.00 pm closure.
Also, there was heavy security presence at the entrance to the Shoprite mall with the workers trapped in the building.
NAN reports that IPOB had earlier issued a release, directing southeast residents to sit-at-home in memory of what it described as Biafra Remembrance Day on May 30.
A staff of the mall, who pleaded anonymity, told NAN that normal activities began in the mall on Saturday morning but were suddenly brought to a halt following sounds of gunshots in the neighborhood.
He added that this led to palpable fear, a situation which prompted the management of the mall to shut the building, leaving all staff and customers grounded.
“We all came to work in the morning. For hours, we have been hearing gunshots, there is fear all around and no customer had come in since that time.
“The management has directed that we close for today though it’s barely half day. They said we cannot leave the premises, nobody goes out and nobody comes in for now until the situation improves,” it said.
NAN also reports that security agencies have mounted checkpoints in major streets of the state capital and beyond to forestall any breakdown of law and order in the state.
Meanwhile, commuters within and outside the state are seen stranded due to gridlock caused by the heavy checkpoints.
Mr Rafael Ubochioma, a motorist said : ” I am confused because I just bought fuel from a nearby filling station with part of the fare I collected from passengers and right now, the road has been barricaded.
“My fate and theirs remain uncertain as we speak,” he said.
Mrs Stella Michael, a passenger regretted embarking on the journey and urged security operatives not to make it appear that innocent road users are being punished for the activities of bandits