Tension as Kwara communities clash over masquerade festival
Tension reportedly broke out last week in Oke-Ero Local Government Area of Kwara State as about five communities engaged themselves in a communal clash following disagreement over celebration of a masquerade festival.
The incident was said to have occurred last Thursday and reportedly led to sporadic shooting and destruction of property in Igbede, Kajola, Ikotun and Owa communities in Odo-Owa.
One of the victims of the incident and Officer-in-Charge of the masquerade, (Esa Orun), Clement Ayantoye Aro, was said to have been shot and currently receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital.
Although it was gathered that the case had been reported to the Omu-Aran Area Command, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PRO), Ajayi Okansanmi, could not be reached to comment on the incident.
Various calls to his line last night reported that his phone was not reachable and text messages sent to him was yet to be replied before this paper went to bed.
But speaking with this medium on telephone last night, some of the affected monarchs disagreed with the narrative.
The Osolo of Igbede, Oba Johnson Jide Aina while speaking with National Pilot over the issue said they are hopeful that justice will be done with the police handling the issue.
According to the traditional ruler, "the Egungun (masquerade) festival used to be celebrated by the conglomerate community of what we used to know as Odo-Owa, which comprises of about five communities, Igbede, Owa, Kajola, Ikotun and others.
"This year, because of the excesses and high handedness we noticed from Owa community, we decided not to celebrate with them.
"This was brought to the attention of the government and a committee was set up. The caretaker Chairman of the local government was represented and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed that the festival will be celebrated one after the other and each community will celebrate its own without interference from others to avoid clash.
"Eventually, the Owa people celebrated first and spent 14 days. Then three of the other four communities agreed to celebrate together and went to the Area Commander in Omu-Aran to sign MoU to that effect not to delay the rotational time table for the festival because celebration will still have to go to Isapa and other places.
"But when we were celebrating our own which usually take place in the night, surprisingly, we were attacked with stones and sporadic gunshots just like an ambush. That was when Esa Orun was shot in the leg at very close range. He is still in the hospital. The matter has been reported to office of the Omu-Aran area commander and the DPO. We believe that justice will be done.
But in his reaction, the Oloota Oke-Ero, Oba Joshua Adeyemi Adimula refuted such arrangement.
"I have a single community here and not multiple communities. Odo-Owa and Ilofa do not have clash on Egungun festival.
"This is not true. I have Odo-Owa and Ilofa, Oko or Osi and other communities here and there has never been a clash among them.
"There is no place where there is Egungun festival without clash, the communities are a single community and if there is any that feels otherwise, then such community has to leave this place and go to its ancestral home. That is the issue and the report of any clash is wrong."