White pigeons released by President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday at the Armed Forces Remembrance caused a stir after refusing to fly.
The ritual is performed to commemorate the life of a departed loved one. It also signifies peace.
Buhari had opened the birdcage at the National Arcade, picked up a bird, and thrown it into the air but the bird landed atop the cage and refused to fly.
Eager to let the pigeons fly, the president opened the roof of the cage but the birds remained adamant and decided to sit on top of the cage’s roof.
Some of the birds, however, took flight moments after the president retired to his seat.
In 2014, the doves refused to fly when former President Goodluck Jonathan freed them. Spiritual Director of the Adoration Ministry Enugu, Rev Fr. Ejike Mbaka, described the incident at the time as a sign that God had abandoned Jonathan.
Meanwhile, studies show that domesticated birds which are used to living in cages are not always keen on flying.
The Vatican stopped the ritual in 2014 when Pope Francis released two birds that would not fly out of the window of the papal apartment and required several attempts to get the birds to fly out over a crowd of spectators.