The Olubadan of Ibadanland, Lekan Balogun, has directed the immediate suspension of the ongoing Egungun festival in response to disturbing incidents of violence, arson, and looting of shops.
In an official statement issued by the Olubadan’s spokesman, Oladele Ogunsola, the traditional ruler expressed deep concern over the atrocities committed by certain hoodlums who took advantage of the Egungun festival’s cover to wreak havoc in Ibadan.
As part of his response, the Olubadan has summoned all leaders of the masquerades, known as ‘Alaagbaa,’ to an emergency meeting at the ancient Aliiwo palace in Agodi, Ibadan, on Monday afternoon.
The Olubadan expressed his sadness over the reported cases of violence that have gone viral, emphasizing that he had already cautioned against turning the festival into a platform for violence.
Notably, the festival has experienced violent incidents before, with the most recent incident reported on Saturday, surpassing previous occurrences in scale.
The traditional ruler emphasized that he had taken the reports seriously when the festival commenced, and he was assured that there would be no untoward incidents. However, the current situation contradicts those assurances received from the masquerades’ leaders.
Considering the safety and well-being of his subjects, the Olubadan invoked the suspension clause and stated that the duration would be determined after the meeting on Monday afternoon.
He stressed that the dark history of the festival being a period of terror, with attacks on perceived enemies, had been left in the past, and any attempt to revive such activities would be met with severe consequences.
The Olubadan called on the security agencies to remain vigilant and ensure that no culprit is spared, declaring that anyone who defies the suspension order, regardless of the pretext, must be treated as a criminal.
“I stand for peace, and there is zero tolerance for anything that disrupts the peace of my people,” the Olubadan asserted, highlighting his commitment to maintaining peace and security in the region.