Residents of Akure on Friday ignored a counter order by the Ondo state government, overruling the Deji of Akure, Aladetoyimbo Aladelusi, on the closure of markets and shops in keeping with the annual Aheregbe festival.

The order from the Deji’s palace on Thursday had notified the residents of the festival on Friday, ordering the closure of markets and shops through out Akure for the festival.

The order which was made public by the Chief Press Secretary to the Deji, Adeyeye Michael, stated that only pharmacies and patent medicine stores would be allowed to open on Friday.

The order is contrary to an August 2022 directive by the state government which forbids the Deji from closing markets or shops for the festival without express permission from the state Governor.

Commissioner for Information, Bamidele Ademola-Olateju had stated on Thursday that as of Thursday evening, no letter from the palace had been received by the State Government seeking permission for the closure of markets.

She said even though a permission for market closure would be granted, it would only affect the Oba market, while markets and shops in the rest of the area would not be affected.

She insisted that the directive given last year regarding the festival remained unchanged.

However, in spite of the wide publicity given to the state government’s counter order, shops and markets in Akure were closed through out the hours of the morning and midday.

Many of the shop owners along Arakale road, which is home to most of the commercial activities in Akure, did not open their shoes for business.

Some of them locked up the shops but attended to customers discretely.

Asked why they kept their shops closed even though the state government had given assurance, the traders stated that the experiences of the past had shown that it was better to adhere to the warning from the palace than risk their goods being destroyed.

In the past hoodlums loyal to the palace often attack the traders who violate the order, carting away valuable items and destroying others to enforce the order.

Another trader who identifies himself as Okwudili, said those who opened shops had to get assurances from the palace that they would not be harrased.

Even with that assurance, many still feared to open for business.

However there were vehicular movement, but business was completely paralised due to the closure of the markets.

An Akure-based lawyer, Femi Emodamori, had earlier on Thursday drew 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 and the closure of markets.

Mr Emodamori urged the state government to stand by its directive as the closure of markets and shops at this time was not good on the people who are already burdened with economic hardship.

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