Speculation rife on arrival of Ooni’s body in palace
SPECULATION was rife yesterday that the body of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade whose reported death in a London Hospital last week created controversies, may have arrived at the palace on Sunday night.
Although The Guardian could not confirm whether the monarch’s body had actually been brought into the country from the United Kingdom where he reportedly joined his ancestors, sources said they noticed unusual movements around the palace on Sunday night.
The decision by Ife Traditional Council which directed yesterday that bell-ringers and town criers should go round all markets and other locations to convey messages was instructive and further raised speculation on the arrival of the body .
Sources said the bell ringers and town criers went round the markets and other locations in town , urging residents not to be afraid about the Oro festival and rumours that rites associated with Ooni’s passage often involve shedding of human blood.
It was gathered that as early as 6.00 am yesterday, the criers and bell ringers went round the town to announce to residents that there was no cause for alarm and that people should continue with their normal businesses.
The bell-ringers and criers told residents that whenever there would be contrary information on the earlier position by chiefs and other stakeholders, the message would be communicated accordingly.
The Guardian gathered that traditional chiefs held a marathon meeting in the palace yesterday and when they rose they kept sealed lips.
One of them later jokingly said: Ore wa (meaning “our friend‘’), you are still here today. Our position still stands that the Ooni is alive as far as we are concerned.’’
During the seven-day Oro festival, it is forbidden for women to be seen outside from 7.00 pm each day to 6.00 am the following day.
The arrival of the body the palace sources said was top secret and can only be known to the initiated who have roles to play in rites of passage of a monarch.
An elderly person who might have noticed the frequent visits of The Guardian to the palace area yesterday said:’’Omo mi kii se iru akoko yi lo ye ki o ma wa bi lemolemo’’ meaning: My son it is not too good for you to be found around this place at this period.’’
The atmosphere at the outer courtyard yesterday was relaxed as normal activities went on with workers and visitors moving in and out of the expansive palace freely.
The main gate leading to the palace was also open with security men and palace guards having little to do.
Sources said that as the traditional chiefs meeting was on in the palace, bell ringers and town criers were equally carrying out their own assignment.
Those present at the meeting according to sources were all the kingmakers who are equally cabinet members of Ooni.
The traditional title holders in the town were named as Lowa, Jaaran, Agoro, Arode, Osanire, Laade, Lowati, Irabese, Lodikos, Obalufe, Obajion, Obalaran, Waasin and Obalaaye.
Those said to be absent at the meeting were the Obalufe, Chief Samuel Omisakin, who is the Prime Minister and second-in-command to the monarch who was still on sick bed and Chief G.A Owoyemi who died recently.
It was learnt that whenever they met for long hours like that, it meant something crucial and unusual might have happened in the palace.
However, the general belief among residents is that the monarch’s body might have arrived and that the chiefs were only buying time to allow all necessary rites to be performed before they make his demise public.