Hell was let loose in Akeran area of Ile-Ife on Thursday, 30th March, 2023 when Oro worshippers invaded Ìdí-Òmò Mosque and attacked Muslims, including the Imam, Alhaji Abdul Fatai Adesiyan, with machetes and other dangerous weapons, during Ramadan.
The initiates who were returning from their procession about past 4:00 pm were reported to have ordered the Muslims to retire into the mosque while the were performing abolition and preparing for SalatuI Asr (afternoon prayer).
Muslim News gathered that the Muslim faithful insisted that they were within the mosque, a safe haven, performing ablution for Salat, before the daredevil armed Oro worshippers resorted to violence, matcheted them and left a number hospitalized with various degrees of injuries.
The attack was coming a day after the traditionalists announced that the Oro procession will be observed in some parts of Ife between 2pm to 7pm on Thursday, thereby warning residents to steer clear the areas.
We were in the mosque for Asr when they attacked us – Abdul-Azeez
While narrating how the incident happened to Muslim News, Bashir Abdul-Azeez said they were preparing for SalatuI Asr (afternoon prayer) at about past 4 when the traditionalists came with dangerous weapons to attack them.
According to him: “during Salatul A’sr, we were performing ablution at the mosque which has a fence, while the Oro worshippers were passing. So, they ordered us to go indoor but we insisted that we were at the mosque, a safe haven for everyone and the mosque is even fenced.
Some of us went into the mosque while some didn’t. Then one of them moved close to a man outside and flogged him. At that time, the Imam, Alhaji Abdul-Lateef Adesiyan was coming into the mosque. They tried to stop him but he insisted he was going into the mosque. Just then, one of the traditionalists, a minor walked up to our Imam and flogged him.
“That was how they flogged and matchetted people at the mosque. They injured the Imam seriously, macheted four people. No life is lost but three Muslims, including the Imam had to flee to safety. They went on with their procession and staged their rites in front of the mosque eventually.”
This isn’t the first time they’ll attack Muslims in their mosque – Adebayo
Najimdeen Adebayo, a member of the congregation at Idi-Omo Mosque, condemned the attack on their imam and other faithful, saying this isn’t their first assault on the Muslims by the Oro worshippers.
Oro worshipers invade mosque in Ile-Ife, attack Imam, congregation
There was commotion in Ilare, a community in Ile-Ife, Osun State on Thursday, when Oro adherents invaded Idi Omo #Mosque, macheted the imam & the congregation mercilessly with cutlasses & other dangerous weapons. pic.twitter.com/ukFLTuSXAj
— Muslim News Nigeria (@muslimnews_NG) March 31, 2023
According to him, “I went to observe Salatul A’sr. On getting out of the mosque, I learnt that the Oro initiates attacked Muslims who came to pray. I pray here regularly but I was closer to another mosque at that point in time, so, I went there instead. On getting here, I discovered that they had been brutally matcheted. As I speak, about five people are hospitalized already.
“Oro rite or procession is not alien to Ile-Ife and no one has ever come in their way. Muslims did not attack them or thwart their procession, they were only trying to worship God in their place of worship (mosque). What right have they got to go there and brutalize the Muslims? They matcheted them and mutilated the Qur’an. Why treat the Qur’an with so much contempt?”
… As Muslim community protests, demands arrest of perpetrators
Members of the Muslim community in their thousands on Friday staged a peaceful protest to condemn the ungodly act and demand the arrest of the perpetrators.
They were seen by Muslim News with placards carrying different inscriptions, such as ‘stop imposition of idolatry in Ife’, ‘Islam is peace, Muslims are peaceful’, among others.
Sadiq Bn Ishaq, called on Muslims irrespective of their ideology leanings to unite and fight against the provocation of the traditionalists which is becoming a dangerous trend in the southwestern Nigeria.
He said, “Why didn’t they beat people in shops? Why go to the mosque? Allah says that those who don’t attack our religion or us, in the cause of worship, we should let them be in peace. If attacked, we may have to defend ourselves.”
“We plead with our leaders, scholars and even students of knowledge to employ the appropriate media in decrying this as it must not slide. If the perpetrators should go unpunished, then, more of such is going to happen, not just in Ile-Ife but in other places as well.
“People are aggrieved as I speak. We had to do a lot pleading and bidding before we could pray this morning. So, whatever appropriate means anyone can use on this matter should be employed”, he added.
They have no right under the law to impose curfew – MURIC
One of Nigeria’s leading human rights organisations, Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, while calling on Muslims in ile-Ife to allow peace to reign following the attack, said the Oro worshippers have no right under the law to unilaterally impose a curfew in a multireligious community.
He said, “MURIC appeals to the Muslim community in the great ancient town, particularly the youth, to follow the words of the glorious Qur’an which counsels against retaliation. It says, ‘Good and evil cannot be equal. Repel evil with what is better and you will see that the one that was your enemy before will become like a devoted friend (Qur’an 41:34).
We remind the police and the Department of State Services (DSS) that no religious group has the right to impose a unilateral curfew on people of other faiths. Chapter 4, Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended 2011) stipulates that every Nigerian is entitled to move freely throughout the country. Therefore, Oro worshippers have no right under the law to unilaterally impose a curfew in a multireligious community.
“Only the state government on the advice of the state commissioner of police can impose curfew but even then, the curfew must be based on negative security report. The curfew imposed by Oro worshippers on the city of Ife on Thursday 30th March, 2023 was therefore illegal, illegitimate, unlawful and unconstitutional.”
Police, Ooni of Ife react, say investigation, peace meeting ongoing
Reacting, the Ooni’s spokesperson, Moses Olafare said the situation is under control as peace meeting is ongoing between stakeholders.
“Ife Traditional Council is on top of the matter. The leadership of the Muslim community in Ife is also involved in the peace meeting currently ongoing. Muslim, traditionalists and Christians living in the town have been cohabitating in peace for centuries.
“The Ooni, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi is calling on all those involved to allow peace to reign. Security agents, leaders of the traditionalists and the leadership of the Muslim community are meeting to address the issue”, he said.
When contacted, the Osun Police Command spokesperson, Yemisi Opalola confirmed the incident, saying investigation has been launched into the mosque invasion.
“We deployed our men to the scene and normalcy have returned to the area while we have commenced investigation to the alleged mosque invasion.
Imposition of curfew by traditionalists illegal, unconstitutional – Court
It would be recalled that a High Court sitting in Ipokia Local Government Area of Ogun State had declared that the imposition of a daytime curfew on the people irrespective of their religions and tribes by Oro festival was illegal.
Justice Sikiru Owodunni, who delivered the judgement in 2018, ordered that Oro festival worshippers have no constitutional authority to impose curfew on residents of Ipokia, Idi-Iroko, Ihunbo, Ifonyintedo, Ogosa, Koko, Ilashe, Ibatefin, Agosasa, Oniru, Mede, Ajegunle and other villages in the area.
“The Muslim community in Ile-Ife and elsewhere in Nigeria, especially in Lagos where the traditionalists impose curfew should approach the court to seek redress to put an end to their lawlessness,” a Muslim lawyer, Kazeem Ibrahim, told Muslim News.
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