BY: VITALIS UGOH Calabar
Duke Town Families Council comprises of the descendants of the aboriginal founders of the present day Atakpa, Calabar, Cross River state has signed a peace and reconciliation path with one of the families, Ekpenyong Offiong Okoho (Eyamba).
A press statement issued at the end of the formal induction of the families before the Etuboms from other houses said “The families control an area encompassing key land marks like “The Calabar Beach, Marina Resort, Watt market, Etim Edem park, African Club ,Cultural Center, Bogobiri and Psychiatric Hospital amongst others”.
These areas formed the administrative core or city center of Calabar in the 18th and 19th century and all further development of Calabar spread outwards from there.
The two main lineages that constitute the Royal Houses of Duke Town (Atakpa) are Edem Efiom Ekpo and Okoho Efiom Ekpo, it added.
According to the statement,”In the past 400 years, administrative convenience had necessitated the grouping of these lineages into Houses to wit; Ntiero, Duke, Ekpenyong Offiong, Mbang Offiong, Oyo-Ita, Edem Efiom Ekpo, Archibong Ekpo, Effiong Essien, Abasi Offiong, Umo Edem, James Edem Ekpenyong and Ekpo Edem”.
“It marks a significant milestone in the effort of members of that family to get reintegrated into the mainstream of royalty in Duke town and the Efik kingdom at large”.
Those that were inducted and that will now represent the house in matters affecting Duke Town Families Council includes,Chief Offiong Efa Eyamba, H.H. Effiom Okon Ekpenyong Eyamba, H.H. Peter Ene Ekpenyong, Princess Benedicta William Adam Eyamba and Princess Glory Asuquo
The statement added “having fulfilled some traditional steps, they are welcomed by the Etuboms of the other Houses and advised to be law abiding, respectful and loyal to the Efik throne and Obong of Calabar. Also, they are to join hands with other Royal Houses to develop Duke Town (Atakpa), the Efik Kingdom and Calabar as a whole.
Etuboms present at the colourful ceremony includes,HRH, Etubom B.O.B Duke, HRH, Etubom Ntiero E.O. Effiwatt, HRH, Etubom Kingsley Obobo Offiong, HRH, Etubom B.E. Ndem, and HRH, Etubom Dr. Esu Oyo-Ita.
Others are, HRH, Etubom-Elect Joseph Okon Edem and HRH, Etubom-Elect Archibong Okon Ironbar.
In an interview, Etubom Bassey Andem, explained that two things happened here. One, Ekeng Offiong of the Eyamba lineage has come back into Duke Town Family Council. As you may be aware, this is the road to peace and reconciliation.
According to him, “this is the first step as there are a number of things to be done until they are fully integrated.You may recall the difficulties that we had in 2017, when the Ekpenyong family was ostracized and suffered under royal sanction. So this is the first step since they came home. We believe that it will be a journey of successful integration and peace.This integration is with Duke Town Family Council but there are other steps to be taken and that is going to involve the whole of nation.It’s a process of reversal and reintegration, so whatever that was done then, has to be undone”.
Also speaking the Commissioner for Environment, Mfon Bassey said “first and foremost let me thank His Excellency the Governor for this peace initiative. As you are all aware in the last couple of weeks there were no activities in the Marina Resort owing to some issue that has to do with the management, the community and the owners of the land.For us as government, we decided to seek the path of peace by calling all the parties to find an amicable way to settle the problem”.
“As at yesterday we concluded with the last meeting at the office of the Commissioner of police, all the stakeholders were present and His Excellency, the governor said that what so ever the issues were that the government will address it and which we have already started that’s why you’ve seen that the whole Families including the management, the youths and everybody who was involved had to come out today to say look we choose the path of peace, he added”.
“Like Etubom Bassey has said, the process has started, but the good news is that Marina Resort is open fully, all other things that will be done behind the scene. Business has started fully at the Marina Resort. We are here as government to say we don’t want any issues.The group that brought in the traditional injunction said that they were malign in terms of employment and even the few of them who were gainfully employed before in the Marina Resort were laid off because of some alleged issue of stealing and all of that. But all of that have been resolved”.
His Royal Kingsley Offiong Obo Obo Offiong, Etubom of Mbang Offiong house here in Duke Town said “I was called upon to pour the liberation and appease the gods of our lands for what so ever offense that has been commited and not authorized by us as elders and as the host community that they should pardon, they should forgive, because we know the dyer consequences of such things and we can’t allow it to go like that. Maybe my son or my uncle’s son may be involved.
“My message for the youths is that they should please consult their elders, even if you’re employed by the government without the knowledge of the elders, go back and tell the elders let us know and feel happy that the government has employed you. Not for you to form a kind of gang based on politics and front yourself to the government and the government will recognize you.,They don’t even care to know your parents. It is only when it gets to this situation that they will want to know your parents. So the message is that they youths should always be cool headed, listen to your parents. Whatever the government has done for you, tell your parents let them appreciate the government as well”.