In 2012, some youths in Mbiabong area of Uyo clashed with the police when one masquerade was allegedly knocked down by a mobile police vehicle.The youths according to reports brought out the masquerades and blocked the major highway on both sides and when the police vehicle arrived it allegedly knocked down a masquerade because the masquerades blocked the entire road.
The police was allegedly attacked by the youths who fled leaving their Hilux Van which was set ablaze. This is only one case of violence associated with the masquerade activities in Akwa Ibom state.In some cases, the masquerades popularly called ‘Ekpo’ and go about with cutlasses approached people for money and if anyone turned down their demands for money, they either beat or give him a matchet cut. This action can also lead to a session of violence which may be fatal.
The Ekpo play is embedded in culture and enjoyed by some people; so its ban cannot be contemplated.However, in a society as ours where the principle of law guides our actions; it is important to demand that the ‘Ekpo’ play should be done within the ambits of law. The Ekpo play should not in any way deny people the freedom of movement as it is the case between Abak and Etim Ekpo highway.
For weeks unend motorists no longer travel on the highway between Abak and Etim Ekpo because the masquerades have taken over.Motorists now resort to using very distant village tracks to avoid been harassed or molested by the masquerades. This issue should be taken up by members of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly with a view to defining how Ekpo masquerades should operate in the state. Those involved in it must be told that while they are enjoying their rights, they should learn to respect the rights of other persons; as this is the only way to ensure a just and peaceful society.
The law should stipulate clearly that they must not attack people verbally or with matchets when they embark on the plays.