By Michael Ofulue, Osogbo
Three persons were reportedly killed following a violent clash between rival cult groups around the Osun-Osogbo ancient groove, during the festival’s grand finale.
Ten operatives of the Nigeria Hunters and Forest Security Service were wounded by the hoodlums during the clash.
The incident threw Osun traditionalists and tourists into panic as people scampered for safety.
As at the time of filing this report, the cause of the clash is yet to be ascertained.
The suspected cultists also vandalized the NHFS office close to the scene of the incident.
Confirming the incident, Mr Hammed Nureni, the State Commandant of Nigeria Hunter and Forest Security Service in Osun said no fewer than three persons were killed in the clash that ensued between the suspected cult groups.
“We counted three dead bodies. After the incident that happened at the groove, the hoodlums proceeded to our office and got it vandalized.
‘Ten of our men were also wounded”, he concluded.
Also reacting to the incident, the Aare Onakakanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Adams, frowned at 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”, he said.
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.
“As a government, our administration has a tourism and cultural industry agenda. During the campaign and within the transition committee, we devised far reaching programmes and policies for the arts, culture and tourism industry. We indeed created a new holistic approach by adding the creative industry as a whole”.