by crossriverwatch admin
Hawkins Cemetery, the final resting place of the Nigeria’s female political icon, Mrs Margaret Ekpo in Calabar is now completely over grown with weeds.
The cemetery which also houses the final abode of several other kings, (Obongs), early missionaries and other notable personalities is now a complete bush and not befitting of it’s status.
The weeds which have grown wild over the years have developed large strong stems and have grown very tall; completely covering the tombs, graves and vaults making the place hardly accessible.
The cemetery which stretches several acres of land spans from Edibedibe through Eyo Ita down to the famous Calabar Beach.
It was created by the Scottish and Irish missionaries in Old Calabar who interred the bodies of their departed colleagues in the place over a hundred years ago and is famous for holding the remains of prominent Efik and Efut departed figures.
The place which looks abandoned according to CrossRiverWatch investigation has become a hideout for armed robbers who congregate there at night to plan operations while secret cult groups also use the place as venue for initiation and other nocturnal activities.
Recently, men of the Operation MESA, the combined security outfit in the state arrested eleven cultist in the area while planning a counter attack after an inter cult conflict in Calabar.
When CrossRiverWatch visited the place on Wednesday afternoon, the security post located deep inside the cemetery was shut while the security man was nowhere in sight.
“The place is always desolate until Friday and Saturdays when people bring their dead ones to bury here and once they are through nobody cares about the place again”. Edem Archibong, a resident of Hawkins Road who lives opposite the cemetery said.
At the Calabar South secretariat, the council in-charge of the place, a council official who craves anonymity said there are plans to relocate the bodies and make room for other bodies to be interred there since the cemetery is full.
“It costs the council about ten million naira to clear the weeds and we do that quarterly; there are plans to evacuate the bodies to make room for other dead people to be buried there as the place as it is now is almost full”.
Mr. Magnus Bassey, the Supervisor for Environment in the council however said there are no such plans.
“You and I may have our loved ones buried there and how will you feel if the grave of your father is cleared to make room for the bodies of other people?”
He said there are plans to clear the weed and spray herbicides in the place.”Those grasses are not cut with knives but usually pulled and there are plans by the council to uproot the weeds and spray herbicides so that the place can be free of weeds for some time”.
It will be recalled that Margaret Ekpo apart from being one of Nigeria’s foremost female activist is also one of the faces of Cross River State tourism drive proudly displayed in the state government’s website and the international airport in Calabar is named after her.
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