The Executive Chairman, Uruan Local Government Area, Rt. Hon. Henry Udofia has called on village Heads, groups and individuals to abstain or obtain an official permit from Akwa Ibom State Police Command Headquarters, Ikot Akpan Abia before embarking on the usual annual floating of masquerades in the area.
This was contained in an official letter from the Council addressed to all Village Heads with the Title: “Ban of Masquerades in Uraun Local Government Area: Reminder”.
The letter further stated that despite initial warning and barn of persons or groups from floating Masquerades in the area, some communities are currently parading same while some are gearing towards floating theirs in the next coming months.
In the letter signed by the Council’s Secretary, Hon. Francis Usen, the Chairman advised village heads, groups and individual to quit such cultural display or obtain an official letter of permit from the State Police Command as any defaulter shall face the full weight of the law.
Uruan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State with 49 recognised villages has a rich cultural heritage of Ekpe, Ekpo (masquerades) Ekong, (War) Nka (age grade) Ebre, Nkugho (fattening Home) among others.
Ekpo is founded on the belief in life after death and it is regarded as the soul or spirit of ancestors that return to unify with kindred during festive periods.
Ekpo as a secret society, it’s membership is strictly by initiation and every aspect of ekpo is designed to strike fear and caution especially among women, children and non-initiates.
Over the years, some communities in Uruan have taken the cultural display to another level of restricting movements and destroying cash crops, farm lands and livestock of non-initiates as well as maiming non-initiates who dares to surface during the display.
Mbiaya community is known for her doggedness for masquerades (Ekpo) which is ongoing despite earlier warnings from the Council Chairman. Commencing its display from the 1st of August to climax on 31st of August, 2019, all other things being equal, Mbiaya masquerades is restricted movement of persons and vehicles except on big market days, burial ceremonies and other important socials in the area.
Similar is the case with Edu, the Council Headquarters, which is known for a deadly display, Ekong while Ifiayong Obot community is popular for her fetish masquerades display localised as Nkim Itong, while Ariaria is known for Ekpe.
It is a known fact that all communities in Uruan Local Government local float Ekpo as it applies to their festive celebrations and traditional observation of time and season.
Given the recent ban of its display in the area, it is pertinent Ekpo initiates in Uruan local government adapt to realities on ground. Most communities in the area have been urbanised with lots of strangers out numbering indigenes.
With that in mind, such primitive cultural practices should be completely abolished or if permitted by the Police, should be restricted to its shrine, where peace and order can still be enjoyed by non-initiates in the communities.