AS THE annual Ibadan Egungun Festival kicks off today, Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Sen. Lekan Balogun, Alli Okunmade II, has warned against any form of thuggery and related vices that some unscrupulous elements have made to accompany the festival which ordinarily should be means of entertainment and camaraderie.
Oba Balogun gave this warning on Sunday, through a statement signed by his media aide, Oladele Ogunsola ahead of the commencement of the festival, the traditional vigil which held Sunday night at the respective family houses that own and worship Egungun.
The festival, according to the statement, would kick off at the Aliiwo Palace of Olubadan with the major and big masquerades led by Atipako coming to dance for Oba Balogun and the members of Olubadan-in-Council and during which supplications would be made to gods for peace to reign in the land.
Oba Balogun, who would be hosting the masquerades for the first time since his ascension Olubadan throne was quoted as saying that he would not tolerate any act of hooliganism with a threat to ban any masquerade whose supporters foment trouble or cause breach of the peace.
According to the statement, “I congratulate my sons and daughters in Ibadanland on this occasion of this year’s Egungun Festival, the first of which I’m hosting as the Olubadan and appeal to all to be sensitive to the mood of the nation as regards security as we celebrate the annual festival.
“We must not lose touch with the purpose of the traditional event which is celebrated annually as a way of thanking our ancestors for the legacies of love, brotherliness and mode of worship bequeathed to us. It is also a period for us to seek for their continual guidance as well as protection from the ravages of all forms of diseases.
“We cannot afford to drop all these positive legacies on the alter of day light robbery, hooliganism, brigandage and thuggery. Or can we turn the entertainment aspect of the festival to something that would leave sour taste in the mouths of our people? I enjoin all to please celebrate with caution, love and consideration for others”, the statement added.
Meanwhile, Oyo State Police Command has organised a sensitisation meeting so as to ensure a hitch-free and peaceful Egungun Festival.
The meeting had in attendance stakeholders including traditionalists, leaders of the various masquerade bearing households and other non-state actors in line with its strategic and proactive policing approach.
Commissioner of Police , Mr Adebowale Williams has ordered Area Commanders, Divisional Police Officers, and Heads of Command tactical formations to embark on confidence-building patrols, purposeful surveillance activities, and intelligence-led visibility policing ahead of the masquerade festival.