A violent altercation between competing cult groups reportedly resulted in the deaths of three persons during the festival’s big finale yesterday near the Osun-Osogbo ancient groove.
In the course of the fight, the thugs also injured 10 members of the Nigeria Hunters and Forest Security Service (NHFS).
Tourists and traditionalists in Osun fled for safety as a result of the tragedy.The origin of the altercation was unknown as of the time this report was filed.
The NHFS office, which was near to the location of the incident, was also vandalized by the accused cultists.
The NHFS Commandant in Osun State, Hammed Nureni, confirmed the occurrence and stated that no fewer than three persons died in the ensuing clash between the suspected cult organizations.
“We counted three dead bodies. After the incident that happened at the groove, the hoodlums proceeded to our office and got it vandalised,” he said.
Also, reacting to the incident, the Aare Onakakanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Adams, frowned upon the invasion of the Osun groove by cultists, saying it “tarnished the international status of the festival”.
Adams, who spoke shortly after the festival, said, “It is unfortunate that cultist and miscreants have been taking advantage of the hospitality of the festival to create a platform for cult rivalry which Osun goddess abhors and we must collectively stop the trend.
“This is an opportunity for Osun and Nigeria to attract tourism development. Osun-Osogbo is known globally and we must protect and project it to the whole world. Nothing must the advancement of the festival and by extension Yoruba tradition.
”Earlier, the Osun State Governor, Ademola Adeleke, restated the commitment of his administration to tourist development.
Adeleke said, “This year’s celebration provides the greatest opportunity ever for our people to have a new look at our culture and tradition. We are challenged to capitalise on our rich culture to build an economically sound and virile nation.”