The Annual Osun Osogbo International Festival commenced with the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Olanipekun, paying homage (Iwo Popo) to various traditional compounds in the ancient town.
He (Ataoja) danced through the main Catholic Mission Road to Gbaemu Junction, where he sat to give royal blessings to his subjects, who took time to join him in the celebration.
This put to rest the controversy that Ataoja would not be allowed to perform the traditional rites ahead of the festival.
An Osogbo High Court had earlier in the year declared the stool of Ataoja vacant and the judgment of the court later upheld by another High Court of the state, presided by Justice Jide Falola, later in the year.
However, unlike the previous festivals, the palace and the link roads to Gbaemu junction were guarded by arm-wielding mobile and regular police men to forestall any trouble from the aggrieved parties that sue the monarch.
The Ataoja himself was led by teams of security operatives consisting of men of the State Security Service (SSS), anti-riot policemen and other security operatives.
The palace entrance, Isale-Osun and Ilesa Garage roads were all barricaded by policemen, scaring people from taking part from the usually fun-filled festival.
Though the monarch took part in the procession, he however did not stay long before returning to his palace, where only few people were allowed to follow him into the palace.
Some of the residents that spoke with OSUN DEFENDER disclosed that the problem with this year’s celebration was the presence of armed-security operatives, saying their looks scared people and denied them the enthusiasm of the festival.
A trader at Oja-Oba, Mrs. Idiat Aleshinloye lamented the security situation, saying past celebrations were not overwhelmed with the presence of arm-wielding security operatives.
Also, a commercial driver at the Palace Square lamented the heavy presence of security operatives, adding that the various road-blocks constituted impediment to their businesses, unlike in the past, when it was usually a money-spinning festival.
However, the medium gathered that the presence of security operatives was due to insinuations that a section of the aggrieve parties would disrupt the procession should the deposed monarch took part in the rites.