By Ushang Ewa
The leadership of seven out of the eight principal Ekpe Efik lodges has stripped the Efe Ekpe Iboku Utan lodge of all privileges associated with the Efik kingdom royal ceremonies, rituals and events till further notice.
The Nigerian Chronicle reports that the declaration by the seven Efik lodges has been received with shock after they explained that their decision to strip the Efe Ekpe Iboku Utan lodge of “The privilege of custody of Mmonyo Ubong Efik” was based on the fact the lodge released “Mmonyo (literally meaning power, pride or glory depending on usage) when the Obong of Calabar is alive and when the Iyamba of Efe Ekpe Iboku Utan is not dead, and further using it to pull an alien Ekpe and person unconnected to Efik royalty.”
Notable members of the lodge include Etubom Okon E.J Eyamba, Chief Adam Efa Eyamba, Chief Ekpenyong E. Eyamba, Chief Inyang Henshaw and Chief Joseph Ene Ita.
The Efe Ekpe Iboku Utan is situated at 12 Eyamba Street in Calabar, the Cross River State capital which alongside Odukpani local government area, hosts the original Efik communities.
Efe Ekpe Iboku Utan had earlier been placed under “Combined, Universal Ekpe sanction on January 28, 2017,” which meant that; “No Ekpe Lodge or initiate is allowed to invite, visit, sit, play or interact with Efe Ekpe Iboku Utan or its outcast Mbong Ekpe, in any Ekpe related matter till further notice,” as a result of the “sacrilege, abomination and treason” against Ekpe Efik and the Efik Eburutu kingdom as a whole.
The release of Mmonyo Ubong Efik carried grave consequences for Calabar which prompted the leadership of the 7 Ekpe Efik lodges to release a masquerade last seen in public about a century ago on June 5, 2017.
A 200-man solemn procession which began from the Calabar River where they received a well decorated Ekpe boat with Ekpe lords from the Creek Town Lodges to Efe Ekpe Eyo Ema (the python shrine), through Watt Market, to Efe Ekpe Obutong, Efe Ekpe Otu Mesembe and back to the Calabar River at Adiabo beach.
Also, on Tuesday, June 6, 2017, a large contingent of boats left Calabar for Creek Town carrying initiates and Ekpe lords where the solemn procession and traditional announcement of the banishment continued.
The procession which had in attendance the Obong of Calabar, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, began from a point with relics revered to be the first place the Efiks stepped into at Creek Town centuries ago and continued to Efe Ekpe Eyo Ema (Otung), Efe Ekpe Esien Ekpe (Mbarakom) and finally to Efe Ekpe Esit Edik (Adakuko).