Okija community in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State has banned activities of masqueraders in the area.
The community alleged that masqueraders had turned into cults, which attacked people with impunity.
Addressing journalists yesterday at his palace, the traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Emeka Okezie, said the town would no longer tolerate the activities of masqueraders in the town.
He said, “The Okija community holds masqueraders festivals in utmost reverence, but will not condone it in the present circumstance.
“Traditionally, masqueraders appear in the public at a specific period of the year and play prominent roles in the celebration of the cultural festival. But today, the fear of masqueraders has become a problem in Okija as masqueraders have turned themselves to terror.”
The monarch said in the past, masqueraders were regarded as the means for maintaining peace and order and were used as law enforcement agents.
He noted that the entire village would come out for the ceremony of the colourful masqueraders with entertainment through dance and exhibition of extra-human feats.
He added that masqueraders would walk up to certain individuals and loudly expose any bad habits, crime or misbehaviour of that person as people would always take corrections from the exposures.
Okezie added that the masqueraders were effective in keeping up with the traditional norms and values in the community.
“Today in Okija, masqueraders have turned themselves to terrors at market places, roads, parks and other public places in the town,” he said.
Okezie stated that Okija had, therefore, banned masqueraders in the community till further notice.
The monarch said a committee had been set up to handle the matter, adding that anyone, who would come out with masqueraders would be treated accordingly.
The Chairman of the Committee on Masquerade Affairs, Chief Sylvester Obiako, said, “People don’t go to work any longer.
“The case was brought to lgwe-in-Council and they set up a committee that will look into the case based on several reports to enable the practice to move simultaneously.
“Our masqueraders have turned to something else today. They collect tolls from motorists and damage their vehicles; passengers also attack them. Women are beaten by masqueraders and those involved are turning the masqueraders into cult members,” Obiako stated.