The remains of the Ooni of Ife, Okunade Sijuwade, has arrived his palace in Ile Ife, knowledgeable and reliable palace sources have told PREMIUM TIMES.
This website became aware of the development even as palace authorities and notable Ile-Ife personalities insist the Oba is alive, and is hale and hearty.
Reliable palace insiders said on Saturday that the body of the paramount ruler left London in a chartered air ambulance on Friday and was taken to the palace under the cover of darkness.
The body, our sources said, is now lying in a secluded part of the palace called Ilegbo, a sacred place where all Oonis commune with their ancestors.
Ilegbo, we understand, is the place where highly-prized rituals take place within the confinement of the palace.
It is also the place where the Are beaded crown, worn annually by the Ooni, is kept.
The Are crown is usually worn through the back because it is forbidden for the Ooni to see the inside of the beaded crown. And when it is worn, the rain must not touch it.
Our sources said only the monarch’s male children and highly ranked priests and chiefs are allowed to access that innermost recess of the palace and sight the Ooni’s remains.
“Even the Oba’s female children can’t come here, tradition does not allow them to sight the Oba at this time,” one of our sources said.
Those who should know said the traditional chiefs had to declare the annual Oro festival on Friday in expectation of the arrival of the corpse.
The commencement of the Oro festival, our sources said, signalled the beginning of the final rites of passage for the departed Ooni.
The Oro is expected to last seven days after which the Ooni would be committed to mother earth at a private ceremony within the palace.
Palace sources said the announcement of the Oba’s passing had to be delayed to allow his wives and family members move their personal belongings from the palace, and for the traditional priests to perform some “compulsory rituals”.
“Members of his family who were with him in London had to hurry back home to remove their personal effects because once his death is declared all their property will belong to the people. They won’t be able to take anything from the palace anymore,” one of our sources said.
Palace chiefs and notable personalities from Ile-Ife have consistently denied reports that the revered monarch had passed on, a news item that first broke on Tuesday.
Their visit to the Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, on Thursday and a closed-door meeting with the governor heightened anxiety that the Ooni might have actually passed away.
They however emerged from the meeting insisting that the Ooni was in good health. On its part, the Osun state government is yet to make any comment on the matter.
Oba Sijuwade’s predecessor, Oba Adesoji Aderemi died on July 3, 1980.
Mr. Sijuwade, crowned Oba on December 6, 1980 is widely believed to have passed away since July 28, 2015.