BY Vincent Ujumadu
AWKA — For allegedly destroying property, harassing innocent people and raping women in Orumba North Local Government Area of Anambra State, the Traditional Rulers’ Council in the area has given promoters of masquerades stringent conditions.
According to the council, failure of promoters of masquerades to abide by the conditions will incur the full weight of the law.
Recently, masquerades invaded the Anglican Church at Ajali, the local government headquarters, where they destroyed property worth thousands of Naira.
They also reportedly invaded people’s homes and demanded ransom for no justifiable reason, while some of them allegedly raped women when they chased them into their compounds.
Worried by the development, traditional rulers in the area, at a meeting at the local government headquarters, said as custodians of the peoples’ culture and tradition, they would no longer keep quiet while selfish people use masquerades to instil fear in people.
The traditional ruler of Oko and chairman of the traditional rulers’ council in the area, Professor Laz Ekwueme, who signed the statement issued by the royal fathers after their meeting, said all masquerades in the local government had been given up to August 15, 2011, to regularize their operations before the commencement of the new yam festivals when the masquerades usually hold sway.
The public notice issued to all masquerade operators read: “Every community shall form a masquerade committee which shall register all extant masquerades stating name and address, family and ward of the custodian of the masquerade and its assigned number from the traditional ruler.
“The register of masquerades shall be lodged in the palace of the traditional of the community and no two masquerades should wear the same number to be pasted on the chest and back of each masquerade.
“Unless invited and accompanied by one from community of operation, masquerades shall operate only in their own communities and should not wander into the neighbouring towns. Henceforth, no masquerade shall harass, disturb or in any way molest unconcerned individuals going about their business on public highways or in the markets, churches, schools and meeting places.
“Masquerades, which can carry only whips made of fresh green wood, should not chase anybody into his house.
“Any masquerade that fails to abide by the rules will be arrested by the police and may be prosecuted for acts of indiscipline likely to cause a breach of the peace.”