Contrary to assurances from the Ife Traditional Council that Oba Okunade Sijuwade, the Ooni of Ife, would return home from a trip to London to grace his son’s (Adegbite) wedding, the monarch was not at the Landmark Event Centre, Lekki, Lagos, venue of the royal wedding yesterday.
The royal father was reported to have died in London last week Tuesday but the palace chiefs repeatedly denied such reports, saying the media has been unfair to the Ooni.
They assured that the Oba was scheduled to attend yesterday’s wedding between Prince Adegbite and Dolapo.
There were reports over the weekend that the remains of the Ooni were brought back to Ile-Ife but that the palace chiefs will need more time to officially break the news.
But Ife Chief Priest Olajide Farotimi Faloba again denied that the remains of the Ooni arrived in the ancient city at the weekend.
He said: “If his (Ooni’s) corpse has arrived, I’m the first to know.”
The chief priest said that the mere fact that everyone, including our correspondent, could have unhindered access into the palace showed that the corpse of Ooni was not inside the palace as reported by some newspapers (not The Nation.)
He said he had just come out of the inner palace and could authoritatively confirm that Ooni’s corpse was not anywhere in the palace.ý
Speaking with our correspondent yesterday inside the Ooni Palace, known as Ile Oodua, Chief Faloba, who is also one of the Ife kingmakers, maintained that Oba Sijuwade is alive.
“If truly Ooni is dead, the palace gates must have been shut and no one can have access into this place, he said.
When asked why the palace was deserted and devoid of human and vehicular traffic, Faloba said there was nothing unusual about that since Ooni was not around.
His response: “I was from the inner palace and there was nothing to show that Ooni is dead or his corpse is inside there. If truly such a thing happened, there can never be access into to the palace, the palace gate must have been shut by now and all markets in Ife would have been closed. Some trees in the market will be brought down to prove that we are mourning the death of our king.
“But nothing like all these as you can see for yourself. As I am speaking to you now, people are in joyous mood with the Ooni’s son, Adegbite, who is getting married in Lagos.
“If it is true that Ooni is dead, we the chiefs are the first to know and to announce it. We are the owner of our culture and kingship in Ife kingdom is sacred and we treat it as such.”
Also, an elderly person, who preferred anonymity, said that some parts of the town were sprinkled with the cow blood as a sacrifice for peace in the community.
However, he too denied that Ooni’s corpse had arrived and noted that the Oro festival had no connection with the reported death of Oba Sijuwade.
Meanwhile, only the guards and four policemen were on guard at the main gate of the palace.
Only two or three persons entered the palace at short intervals. They were allowed in after security checks.
The atmosphere around the town, particularly at Enuwa, very close to the palace was not different from what it used to be when the Ooni was around.
The Sijuwade royal family and the Olowu family of Ijebu Ode, Ogun State yesterday hosted a galaxy of dignitaries to the wedding of their children – Prince Adegbite and Dolapo.
Prince Adegbite is the son of the Ooni through Olori Monisola and Dolapo is the daughter of Mrs. Olowu, a former official with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
The superlative wedding of the Ife blue blood to the media socialite was one to remember.
The guests cut across the royalty, business, politics, music and government among others.
Only guests with valid and verified invitations were allowed into Landmark Events Centre, venue of the strictly-by invitation wedding.
A list of actors – members of the bride’s constituency – forced their way in.
But despite the tight security, a mammoth crowd turned up for the event from far and wide, with groups coming from as far as Ijebu-Ode, Ilorin, Osun and Epe to honour the debonair prince and his lovely bride.
The event began with the traditional engagement, which lasted for more than two hours. The bride was resplendent in her pale-grey traditional lace outfit, while the prince looked regally in his white Aso Oke attire.
The friends of the bride donned coral floral head gears atop red cord lace materials, while friends to the groom donned peach Aso Oke caps atop white native attires.
Amidst outpouring of love and well-wishes to the new couple, the bride’s father’s statement captures the torrents of wishes for them.
“It is a great day! We all cross our fingers and wish the couple the best of married life,” he said.