Since the outbreak of Coronavirus, government has set up many preventive measures urging citizens to strictly abide by the rules in order to tame spread of the pandemic especially in various communities. Part of the guidelines is limiting people’s gathering to 20 in number. The state government also issued some penalties to be meted on violators of the directives. Recently in Ekiti state, a popular hotel was sealed off for hosting a wedding party where more than 20 people were in attendance.
Since government has come out with efforts to tackle the disease, the Chairman, Ekiti state council of traditional rulers and Alawe of Ilawe Ekiti,Oba Adebanji Alabi on behalf of all Royal fathers in the State has promised to work in tandem with the government in ensuring that their subjects abide by the regulations to check pandemic in the land.
The State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, had earlier announced the Suspension of all traditional festivals in the state to check further spread of covid-19. Trouble however, started in the town on Sunday August 9, 2020 when Ire Ekiti traditional ruler, Oba Bobade, made an attempt to enforce the precautionary directive as announced by the government.
The monarch was said to have announced through a town crier that the festival would not be hold due to the order of the Ekiti state government. He had also made a move and invited the Ogun adherents to his palace where he informed them to shelve this year’s celebration.
The decision which allegedly didn’t go down well with the worshippers had polarized residents of the town into factions. The crisis which started eve of the celebration generated a lot of problems. One of the factions was said to have supported the move by the monarch, while the other faction supported the adherents to go ahead with the celebration. The development led to attacks between the two rival groups, a vehicle belonging to the monarch was set ablaze, while three other persons whose identities are yet to be known were allegedly shot dead by the angry youths.
The victims were reportedly hit by stray bullets while making attempts to stop the crisis that paralyzed business activities in the community. It was also gathered that some irate youths loyal to the adherents also made an attempt to gain entrance to the palace of the monarch, but were later prevented by the police and other security operatives. A source in the town who is also an Ogun worshipers said the ancient community which is formally known for peace is currently boiling as relatives of the victims have continue to protest the killing of their loved ones.
He said though mobile police officer from the Ekiti state police command have taken over the palace of the traditional ruler of the community, apparently to prevent some faction loyal to the Ogun worshippers from attacking the palace. “We have been having serious battle in the town since our monarch stopped the Ogun Onire worshippers to stop the celebration of the annual festival. And the crisis between the factions loyal to the monarch and the worshippers led to the death of the victims.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Sunday Abutu, confirmed that two persons were killed during the bloody crisis contrary to three being said around. “Yes, there have been crisis there since Sunday and we have been trying to quell it.
Some group of the youth who came to attack the palace, destroyed things and burnt some vehicles that belonged to the king. We got a distress call and had to mobilise policemen there, we were able to rescue the chiefs from the palace. We are still monitoring the situation.
“The people were protesting and probably disagreement from factions that are there led to the death of those persons. But investigations are on. Those who were involved in the act will be arrested and brought to book. Also Ekiti State Police command on Wednesday August 12, 2020, issued a press statement to warn the people of Ijero Ekiti in Ijero local government area of the State on an alleged arrangement plan going on in the community to also celebrate their Ogun festival amidst pandemic. Sequel to this, the Commissioner of Police in the state, CP Tunde Mobayo called on the people to suspend the celebration scheduled to Thursday August 13, 2020. The CP in a statement signed on his behalf by the police spokesperson in the State, ASP Sunday Abutu warned the people of the Community that the Federal Government as well as the State Government’s directive that all gatherings are prohibited as a measure to curb the spread of COVID-19 is still in force.
The statement reads in part: “In view of this, the Ekiti State Police Command hereby declare the proposed festival slated for Thursday August 13, 2020 in Ijero-Ekiti as illegal and should be cancelled till further notice. “The Commissioner of Police, Ekiti state Command, CP TUNDE MOBAYO therefore, implores all Stakeholders, Elders, Parents and Guardians to warn their wards to boycott the proposed festival and allow peace a chance to reign in the state for the benefit of all and our Society.”
However, to corroborate the government Covid-19 guidelines, a traditional stakeholder and Ifa (oracle) adherents in Delta Community, Ekiti state chapter. Chief Noah Agbogun, head of Ifa adherents said all traditional festivals can still be celebrated without Jeopardy on the compliance of covid19 guidelines. Chief Agbogun celebrated this year Ifa festival in line with Covid-19 preventive guidelines.
The celebration which took place in his traditional home in Ado Ekiti had in attendance less than 20 people. Chief Agbogun while speaking with Journalists explained that from inception, mode of performing the real aspect of all African traditional festival has been in line with all the government guidelines now stipulated to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. He added that the kind of celebration which goes with fanfare and usually attract large gatherings was inculcated for social reason.
“And this can be easily done away with without affecting the traditional festival and the appeasement to the ancestors for God’s acceptance of our prayers which is the bane of any traditional festival worldwide. “For instance, Ifa divination chooses date for worshippers to celebrate the festival, we can’t celebrate anytime on our own, our Festival is called OGBELOTUN,OSALOSI, today Friday August 14,2020 is the day given to us by the divination, you can see everything is in line with pandemic preventive guideline, unknown to many people, the core aspect of African traditional festival has taken care of all these, the celebration which attracts crowd is just human addition for merrymaking and homecoming which in this period can easily be removed for pandemic.
“In enforcing the covid-19 directive friends, families, well wishers both home and abroad who would have been around this time have sent several messages on social media to greet us, we have also prepared take away gift of free herbs, food and drinks for neighbours, well wishers around to just pick and go as they come, and it’s not possible for them to come at the same time, when no provision for such , this year Ifa festival falls on the same date with Osun Oshogbo festival because of the spiritual relationship between the two.”
On how to discover Covid-19 drug, Chief Ajogun lamented that African system has been designed in a way that all their hearts/lives have been placed in the hands of white people. “Our system is not favourable at all. Africa traditional stakeholders have wherewithal on remedy for Coronavirus but what of acceptability, credibility and believability couple with long process of ascertainment, but I want to urge our government especially in Nigeria not to belittle or downgrade African medicine in curative for human existence. Chief Agbogun also urged government to include the Study of Ifa in school curriculum. According to him, “will eradicate ignorance and corruption in society, it will also boost development in Nigeria,” he advised.