oniContrary to the assurances of the Council of Chiefs that the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, “is alive” and would attend his son’s wedding yesterday, the event took place without the monarch’s presence.
The development confirmed fears that the traditional ruler had indeed passed on last Tuesday at a London hospital.
Even with the monarch’s absence at the wedding in Lagos, the palace authorities still insisted yesterday that the Ooni is “alive”.
But Nigerian Pilot learnt that the Ooni had indeed died and his remains had arrived in the palace in Ile-Ife.
There is however no official announcement on Sijuwade’s passage and the arrival of his remains from London, burial rites usually observed for occupants of the office have started.
Some residents of Ife, who spoke on the matter, declared that there were strong indications that the Ooni had joined his ancestors, the traditional way of announcing a monarch’s death in the town.
A pointer to this is the declaration of the sacred seven-day Oro Festival which signalled the beginning of the final rites of passage for the departed Ooni.
An insider in the palace revealed that the remains of the eminent traditional ruler arrived in Ife on Friday evening and was taken to the sacred place within the palace called “Ilegbo” for the body to be communing with the ancestors.
However, the President of Ife Development Board, Prof. Muhibudeen Opeloye, debunked rumours of the traditional ruler’s death. He had told newsmen last Wednesday that the monarch would attend his son’s wedding yesterday.
As at the time of filing this report, the main gate leading to the palace was still locked and opened for only high ranking traditional chiefs of the town.
A visit to key places in the town yesterday showed that usual commercial activities were still taking place, especially in the markets, motor parks and shops. Also, worship services and Asalatu were held in churches and mosques in the town.
The Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU campus and its environs were also lively as students moved in and out without any hindrance.
Speculations are however rife that the remains of the monarch might be committed to mother earth privately within the seven days of Oro Festival before the official announcement of his death.