Shops and markets were on Friday shut across Akure, the Ondo State capital, as business owners obeyed the traditional authorities instead of the state government on the celebration of an event in the city’s cultural calendar.
The Deji of Akure, Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi, who is the traditional ruler of the city, had ordered the closure of markets and shops throughout Akure on Friday in line with the kingdom’s tradition for marking the annual Aheregbe festival.
The order was announced on Thursday by the spokesperson of the traditional ruler, Adeyeye Michael, stating that only pharmacies and patent medicine stores would be allowed to open on the day.
But the order is contrary to an August 2022 directive by the state government which forbids the traditional ruler from closing markets or shops for the festival without express permission from the state governor.
The state Commissioner for Information, Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, had stated on Thursday evening that the state government had not received any letter from the palace seeking permission for the closure of markets.
She said that even if such permission was granted, it would only affect the Oba (king’s) market in the city/. She insisted that the directive issued last year regarding the festival remained unchanged.
However, despite the wide publicity given to the state government’s counter order, shops and markets across the city were closed throughout until midday.
Many shop owners along Arakale Road, which is home to most of the commercial activities in Akure, did not open their shops for business.
Those who were around kept their shops locked but attended to customers discretely.
Some traders who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES said past experiences taught them that it was better to adhere to the orders from the palace than risk their goods being destroyed.
Hoodlums often attacked traders who ignored orders from the palace, carting away or destroying wares.
Another trader who identifies himself as Okwudili, said those who opened shops must have received assurances from the palace that they would not be harassed.
Even with such assurance, he said, many still feared to open for business.
However, there was vehicular movement, as business was completely paralysed due to the closure of the markets.
An Akure-based lawyer, Femi Emodamori, had earlier on Thursday drawn the attention of the state government to the order from the palace, saying it was a violation of the directive of the state executive council given in August last year in respective of the festival.
Mr Emodamori urged the state government to stand by its directive as the closure of markets and shops was further punishment for people already suffering economic hardship.
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