The police in Ekiti State has banned the celebration of the 2020 Ogun Onire Festival in Ire Ekiti, Oye Local Government Area of the state after two persons were killed during a violent crisis over the traditional event.
Two groups in the community had clashed on Monday over an announcement of the cancellation of the festival, resulting in the killing of the two persons and greatly unsettling the peace of the town.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that trouble started when the traditional ruler, the Onire, Victor Bobade, said the annual festival would not hold this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
But some groups in the community, especially worshippers of Ogun, did not take the pronouncement kindly, leading to a mob attack on the palace of the traditional ruler.
The Police Commissioner in the state, Tunde Mobayo, on Wednesday, waded into the crisis to forestall further breakdown of law and order.
"The attention of the Nigeria Police Force, Ekiti State Command, has been drawn to the proposed plan of the people of Ijero-Ekiti Community to celebrate their Ogun Festival scheduled for Thursday 13th August, 2020 amidst the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic," a statement by the police commissioner read.
"The Command wishes to remind the good people of Ekiti State, particularly the people of Ijero-Ekiti community that the Federal Government as well as the State Government's directive that all gatherings are prohibited as a measure to curb the spread of COVID-19 is still in force.
"In view of this, the Ekiti State Police Command hereby declare the proposed festival slated for Thursday 13th August, 2020 in Ijero-Ekiti as illegal and should be cancelled till further notice.
"The CP therefore, implores all stakeholders, elders, parents and guardians to warn their wards to boycott the proposed festival and allow peace to reign in the state for the benefit of all and our society.
"He hereby assures the good people of Ekiti State that the security and safety of lives and properties of the citizens remains his top priority.
"In view of this, the Ekiti State Police Command hereby declare the proposed festival slated for Thursday, 13th August, 2020 in Ijero-Ekiti as illegal and should be cancelled till further notice."
Mr Mobayo urged the stakeholders, elders, parents and guardians to warn their wards to allow peace to reign in the state.
He also assured the people of their security and safety, saying it was the priority of the police.
He further said that the police were on the trail of the culprits who were involved in the killing of the two persons on Monday.
He added that there was an ongoing mop-up of light arms in the town to forestall killings.
While condemning the manner a mob took to the streets, destroying properties during the crisis, the police boss said efforts were underway to ensure no such things reoccur, warning the people to be law-abiding.
There are 193 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ekiti State and 112 cases active. A total of 79 persons have been treated and discharged, while two deaths have been recorded so far.