The traditional ruler of the Ikate-Elegushi Kingdom in Lagos State, Saheed Ademola, on Wednesday said the ‘Oro’ festival scheduled by the kingdom for Sathrday is an annual event and would not affect the governorship elections scheduled for the same day.

The monarch had declared a three-day “oro rites” between the hours of 12 a.m. – 5 a.m. on Wednesday to Saturday.

In a memo issued to the residents of the community, the monarch announced that there will be a restriction of movement to perform the “oro” festival stating in midnight Wednesday.

“The festival is a midnight thing, it starts from 12 midnight today to 5 AM tomorrow, midnight tomorrow to 5AM Friday, then Friday 12 midnight to 5AM,” the monarch told PREMIUM TIMES through his spokesperson, Temitope Oyefeso, on Wednesday.

“There is a curfew from the government from 12 midnight on Friday up till 6 PM the next day (Saturday).

“By 4:30 to 5 AM, we will be out of the road. Anyone that wants to drive to the polling unit will get there at 8:00 because INEC will not even get to the polling unit until 7 AM.

“The oro is just within the kingdom and people that want to come and vote in Ikate who don’t live in Ikate will arrive Friday evening.”

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“Annual event”

Mr Oyefeso said that the festival is an annual event which is performed for a month. He said that the part that restricts movement is just for three days.

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“The Oro does not have anything to do with the election in anyways, there is no interference of any kind, I have spoken with the PPRO from Abuja. By 12 midnight that is when Oro will start and that is the same time that the government curfew will start too,” he said.

Mr Oyefeso said that they had fixed the ritual for 18 March in a deliberate attempt to avoid the election but INEC postponed the election to same day.

“There is a process that is not public which has started since last weekend and must be completed this weekend,” he said.

Many social media users claimed that the development is an attempt to disenfranchise voters.

The community was a traditional stronghold of the ruling APC until the last election.

Telephone calls to Wale Ahmed, the state’s commissioner for community and local government, were unanswered. However, the state’s commissioner for information, Gbenga Omotoso, told this newspaper that it is a community matter.

He added that he had yet to speak with the monarch on the matter.

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Reacting to the development, the Labour Party governorship candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, urged his supporters to come out en masse and vote, adding that the “festival won’t affect Saturday’s election.”

“Be rest assured that we are going to come out in force to ensure that we resist any form of intimidation or harassment on Saturday and our votes are going to count,” he said in a video clip posted on his Twitter handle on Wednesday.

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Recently, there were rumours that Oro festival will be performed in Akesan, however, the monarch quickly dispelled it as false.

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