Following media reports of the passing on of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, sympathisers on Wednesday morning trooped to his palace to confirm the development.
The sympathisers began arriving at the palace as early as 6.30 a.m. to ascertain the veracity of the report from palace chiefs, who declined to speak.
They were, however, turned back at the entrance of the palace by palace guards, while the gate was shut.
Many sympathisers, however, gathered in groups a few metres from the palace gate discussing the development in low tones.
When the Private Secretary to the Ooni, Saka Awojoodu, was approached by a correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) to react to the development, he simply said: “I have nothing to disclose.’’
Bisi Oduyemi, one of those who was at the palace, said he came to find out whether the news of the monarch’s passing on was true.
“I am here to find out whether the story of the Ooni’s death was true. I heard the news on radio during the newspaper review this morning but I am here to confirm this from the palace chiefs and unfortunately, they are not forthcoming,’’ Oduyemi said .
Another resident, Idayat Akinrolu, said she abandoned her house chores to find out the authenticity of the story from the palace.
Meanwhile, the state government and the Osun Council of Traditional Rulers have yet to react to the development.
NAN learnt that both the state government and the traditional council were waiting for official announcement by the palace chiefs .
Sijuwade was born on Jan. 1, 1930 in Ile-Ife to the Ogboru Ruling House and was the grandson of Ooni Sijuwade Adelekan Olubuse I.
He studied at Abeokuta Grammar School and Oduduwa College in Ile-Ife.
Sijuwade worked for three years in his father’s business, then two years with the Nigerian Tribune, before attending Northampton College in the UK to study business management.
By the age of 30, he was already a manager in Leventis, a Greek-Nigerian conglomerate. In 1963 he became Sales Director of National Motor in Lagos.
After a 1964 visit to the Soviet Union, he formed a company to distribute Soviet-built vehicles and equipment in Nigeria and this became the nucleus of his business empire.
He also invested in real estate in his home town of Ile Ife and became the Ooni on Dec.6, 1980.