Residents of Ife were on Tuesday gripped by fear ahead of the official proclamation of the demise of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, which is expected to be made on Wednesday (today).
The monarch died in a hospital in the United Kingdom on July 28 but despite the media reports announcing the passage, the Ife Traditional Council had insisted that the monarch was alive.
However, the Head of the Oro Cult in Ife, who is also the Aware of Iwara Ife, Oba Layi Adereti, while speaking on the demise of the Ooni on Tuesday, said the worshippers of the deity would perform some rites on the passage of the Ooni on Wednesday.
Consequently, he urged residents to stay indoors between 9am and 4pm when the rite would last.
Some students of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, living close to the heart of the town, told our correspondent that they would relocate to the campus till after the rites.
The management of the OAU has asked students who live on the campus to remain on the campus while it asked those living outside the campus to respect the tradition and stay indoors on Wednesday.
The university’s position was contained in a statement signed by the acting Dean of Students’ Affairs, Dr. I. M. Durosinmi, on Tuesday.
It reads, “This is to inform the generality of students that there shall be a curfew in Ile-Ife, on Wednesday, August 12, 2015 from 9am to 4pm and from 11pm till dawn.
“Students are therefore strongly advised to stay on campus while those outside the campus should remain indoors.
“The Division of the Students’ Affairs counts on the maturity and sense of responsibility of Great Ife students and appeals to all students to comply with the information and continue to keep the peace.”
Our correspondent observed on Tuesday that residents trooped to banks to withdraw money while some rushed to markets to buy foodstuffs.
Some banks in the town have also asked their workers to stay off work on Wednesday.
For instance, a worker at Access Bank in Ife told our correspondent that the bank had given its members of staff a holiday on Wednesday.
The official, who pleaded not to be named said, “We won’t open tomorrow (Wednesday) because of the rite which Ife chiefs said would be performed for the Ooni.
“We were asked to stay at home tomorrow (Wednesday) because of the rite by the Oro worshippers. We will resume on Thursday.”
It will be recalled that the Ooni was reported to have been flown out in an air ambulance following his illness but he died after receiving treatment for five days.