By Gbenga Faturoti, OSOGBO

There were mixed feelings at Ile-Ife as traditional rites preparatory for the official pronouncement of the demise of Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse II, commenced.

Investigation conducted revealed that the ancient palace of Ile-Ife which has been under lock and key since Tuesday, 28th July, 2015, when the report of the demise of Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse II was in the press has been opened by the traditional chiefs of Ile-Ife.

The palace, it was gathered was opened for the residents of Ile-Ife to have access to the royal court so that they would not be put in the dark especially regarding on-going traditional rites in the town.

Though the Ife Royal Traditional Council had maintained that the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade is alive and responding to treatment in an undisclosed hospital in United Kingdom (UK), it was reliably gathered that certain conditions suggesting the demise of the Ooni are yet to be performed by the traditional chiefs.

Among the conditions, Independent on Saturday reliably learnt include closure of the main market in Ile-Ife; cutting of branches of all trees in the heart of Ile-Ife; ringing of spiritual bell round the ancient town; opening of inner door within the palace court which will signify that the palace is vacant and performance of ‘Oro’ Festival indicating the passage of the monarch.

The source maintained that the on-going ‘Oro’ Festival is one of the several festivals expected to be performed.

Meanwhile, residents of Ile-Ife have entertained fear and return home early so that they would not be caught by the traditional web.

It was further learnt that the visit of Ife Royal Traditional Council to Governor Aregbesola in Osogbo on Thursday was part of pre-conditions for the announcement of the demise of traditional ruler in Yoruba land.

The Ife Traditional Chiefs were said to have passed the responsibility of the official announcement of the demise of Ooni on the Governor who is expected to make the official pronouncement anytime traditional rites have been concluded and performed.

Another source revealed that the position of the traditional chiefs of Ife was premise on the circumstances surrounding the report of the demise of Ooni which was said to have negated cultural practices of Ile-Ife.

According to the source, “if the incident had happened in Nigeria, the official announcement would not take too much time but since it happened outside the shore of Nigeria, some traditional rites needed to be performed because of the implications or effects.

As at the time of filling this report, Independent on Saturday reliably learnt that certain spiritual rites that needed to be performed when a traditional ruler dies are being gradually carried out in the ancient town.

None of the traditional chiefs in Ile-Ife is ready to speak to confirm the demise of Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade Olubuse II, as they all insisted that he is still alive.

The head of the Royal Traditional Council, Oba Joseph Ijaodola met Governor Aregbesola behind close door on the matter but debunked the report that Ooni has passed on.

The monarch said: “We were all shocked when we heard the rumour. If at all such an incident had occurred, the traditional council would be the first to know and equally break the news to the entire public.

“Sixteen of us are his chiefs and when he was travelling out, he didn’t look like he was going to die and should that have happened to him, we would have been informed even before anyone would hear about it. We pray that Ooni Sijuade will live long in good health.”

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