Judex Okoro, Calabar
The age-long dispute over who heads the traditional institution of Mkpani community in Yakurr Local Government, Cross River State, seems to have been resolved as the warring communities have embraced peace. The two brotherly communities of Aduma and Mkpani have been embroiled in the tussle over which community should produce the next traditional ruler, Obol Lopon of Mkpani.
While the Mkpani community insisted that their Obol Lopon of Mkpani is the oldest and therefore, should oversee the native laws and customs of the entire Mpkani, the Aduma community through its clan head objected, claiming that the Obol Lopon (traditional ruler) was not properly enthroned and therefore cannot perform certain traditional rites across the communities in his domain.
This has not only led to internecine war, but subsequent killings and destruction of property worth millions of naira as well as total disruption of economic and farming activities.
However, the two disputing communities, in a meeting held in Yakurr LG secretariat, have reached a truce as warring traditional leaders have signed a peace accord, promising to forgive one another, respect the traditional institution and recognize the Obol Lopon of Mkpani as the highest traditional authority in Mkpani.
Besides, all the stakeholders resolved most of the contending issues including relocation of the Mkpani market to its former location and the reopening of all roads and central celebration of Mkpani New Yam Festival.
Speaking at the peace meeting the Permanent Secretary, Special Services, governor’s office, Dr Alfred Mboto, decried the incessant killings of innocent people and destruction of property at the slightest provocation, adding that “anyone or chief who truncate the peace agreement reached at the meeting will be severely dealt with no matter how highly placed.”
Earlier, the State Security Adviser Central, Mr Ransom Odey, enjoined the communities in dispute to differentiate between party lines and community interest, warning that no personal interest supersedes the collective interest of the people.
He advised the chiefs and elders to be very cautious because those are beating the drums of dispute would never dance publicly when the violence arises, urging them to remember the legacies they intend to bequeath to the younger generation.
The paramount ruler of Yakurr, Obol, Ofem Ubana Eteng, regretted the long dispute in the Mkpani traditional institution and called on all stakeholders to do all humanly possible to restore peace and tranquility in Mkpani. He added that mkpani is critical to the overall well-being of Yakurr traditional institution.
On the causes of the dispute, the clan head of Aduma, Obol Oden Dan Ubi, claimed that the Obol Lopon Of Mkpani was not properly installed and that the relocation of the market had escalated the crisis.
On his part, the Obol Lopon of Mkpani, Obol Sunday Obono Okoi, said he was properly installed according to the tradition of the Mkpani by traditional rulers, adding that he had since assumption of office taken necessary measures to ensure reconciliation of peace and progress in the area:
“Despite all the challenges, I am determined to do anything humanly possible to guarantee peace, security and progress of Mkpani nation.”