There is tension in Calabar, Cross River State capital, as the crisis in Ekpe society and the supremacy tussle between the Obong of Calabar, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi-Otu V and the Ndidem of the Quas, Ndidem Patrick Inok Oquagbor V deepens.
In Efik and Qua communities, people, mostly Ekpe or Mgbe initiates, sometimes gather to discuss in hushed tones the development, while several meetings are held in different Ekpe or Mgbe shrines and palaces to discuss the crisis.
There have been accusations and counter accusations on both sides, with threat of a N500m court action against the Obong and others, though it is hoped that the matter does not snowball into blood letting, as stakeholders are on red alert.
The Etubom Traditional Council (kingmakers in Obong’s palace) had, in a letter dated May 30, 2017 and signed by its chairman, Etubom Bassey Okor Bassey Duke and the Secretary, Etinyin Ekpo Archibong declared that an act of sacrilege and abomination was committed on April 17, 2017 by some Efik sons and Ekpe title holders and initiates as “Mmonyo (Mace) Ekpe Efik Iboku Utan was released and used (Efe Ekpe Iboku Utan) to herald and pull a person (the Ndidem of the Quas) that is not the Obong of Calabar.”
They also accused some Efik sons of collaborating with the Ndidem of the Quas to undermine the Obong of Calabar by not rising to defend the Obong when the Ndidem in Efe Ekpe Iboku Utan (shrine) proclaimed himself as the Ndidem of Calabar in their presence.
In view of this, they said, “the Obong of Calabar-in-Council has decided, “Efe Ekpe Iboku Utan will no longer be used in any Efik royal ceremony. Ekpe Efik lords will collectively determine which Ekpe Efik Lodges will be utilised for specific Royal ceremonies henceforth. The outcast members of Efe Ekpe Iboku Utan, who were physically seen to be principal members committing this abomination, and their offspring are under royal sanction and shall remain banished from all activities and roles concerning Efik Eburutu Kingdom till further notice.”
But in a reaction, one of the banished Ekpe titleholders, Chief Ekpenyong Eyamba from Efe Ekpe Iboku Utan, speaking on behalf of the banished Efik sons, the Ndidem of the Quas and others dismissed the banishment, saying, “it cannot stand and they do not have such rights. We are going to court and we are already with our lawyer because they are contravening our right of worship and freedom of association. We are suing the Obong of Calabar, Etubom Bassey Okor Bassey Duke who signed the letter pronouncing us banished, all the Etuboms and houses that are involved and we are claiming damages of N500m because they don’t have such rights”.
They denounced the Obong of Calabar saying, “we never gave him Mmonyo because of the tussle (before his coronation), he never answered to the call of Ekpe, just like he never entered Iboku Utan lodge. So, what gives you right to even query?”
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Irene Ugbo, said on Friday: “The Police is aware. Our men are on ground, just like other sister security agencies. For now, that area is calm, and there is nothing going on. When it started, the Commissioner of Police deployed more men there.”
She denied allegation that the police have taken side with any group saying, “that is false. We cannot be one-sided and the Commissioner is very careful with issues like this.”