The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, has cautioned indigenes and residents of the town protesting against the appointment of a non-native as the vice-chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
The monarch also assured workers and students of the institution of safety of lives and property.
The Ooni, in a statement by his Director of Media and Public Affairs, Moses Olafare, on Wednesday, promised the protesters that their agitation would be given adequate attention, saying protests were legitimate rights and a way to pass messages of dissatisfaction across to relevant authorities.
The statement read in part, “Over the years, the good people of Ife have been a superb host to the university even as they enrol their children and equally join qualified hands to work in the OAU, a citadel of learning.
“The Ife community is proud to have partnered and still partnering with the institution through the House of Oduduwa on viable programmes and projects capable of projecting Ile-Ife to the outside world as an ancient city ready for progress and development.
“While Oba Ogunwusi has rallied major stakeholders to address the issue at hand, the Kabiyesi appeals for calm, calling on all law-abiding citizens to go about their normal businesses without fear. The good relationship between the town and the gown remains as strong as ever, particularly to the benefit of the younger ones in and outside the university. OAU is Ife, Ife is OAU and we shall continue to cohabit in peace for progress.”
Also, the leadership of the Traditional Religion Worshippers Association, Osun State, on Wednesday, demanded the arrest and prosecution of the traditionalists, who protested at OAU.
Some traditionalists had staged protests on the campus of the university on Monday and Tuesday during which they grounded activities in the institution by invading the ivory tower with Osun adherents and masqueraders.
But the TRWASO, in a statement signed by its Secretary, Chief Ifasola Onifade, called on security agencies to investigate and uncover those who dressed like traditionalists during the protest.
The association said although those that staged the protest had rights to express their feelings, it added that TRWASO considered it strange that sacred costumes, paraphernalia and other items synonymous with traditional religion adherents were adorned by the protesters.
Insisting that the protesters were not members of the TRAWSO either in Ile-Ife or other branches near the community, the association dissociated its members from the protest, saying the cause of the action had nothing to do with traditionalists.
The statement read in part, “After thorough checks, we discovered that the protesters were neither members of the TRAWSO in our Ile-Ife branch, nor belong to our other branches around the Ile-Ife community.
“As respected members of traditional institutions, we were not involved in the running of the affairs of the OAU, neither were we involved in the processes that led to the appointment of the new vice-chancellor for the university, hence, we have no justifiable reason to protest the appointment of the VC of a federal university for that matter.
“We call on security agents to investigate and uncover those who dressed like traditionalists and invaded the OAU and prosecute those found wanting. Our members were not involved in the protest. The activities of those involved are self-serving and shameful. The worrisome aspect is the fact that the protesters portray us in a bad light as fetish and uncivilised, and we warn against the use of our items by people that are not known to us.
“Those that are involved should be warned seriously as our members will not take kindly to the repeat of such a show of shame, which may attract stronger reaction, or even litigation from our end to protect our integrity. We also advise whoever wants to express their displeasure through protests to take proper channel and desist from conducts capable of destroying the integrity and honour of others.” – Punch.