Religious intimidation: Time for traditionalists to wake up

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Religious intimidation: Time for traditionalists to wake up




Nigeria is incontestably a secular state with three recognizable religions — Christianity, Islam and Traditional religion. Though acclaimed as giant of Africa, this does not reflect in many facets, indubitably, one of the areas, this claim of giantness has not manifested is religion. Religious extremism has never stopped encroaching to ruin the country, state, community, and even, family setting. All religions preach peace, and so I think everyone, irrespective of their religious beliefs, should be tranquil-oriented and tolerant.


However, the recent doleful drama in Ilorin, the capital city of Kwara state, that saw the life of a priestess, Omolara Oladipo alias Yeye Ajesikemi Olokun, severely threatened by cretins, pretentiously engulfed with religious fanaticism, thereby forcing her into recision of her traditional festival scheduled to hold between 22nd and 24th of this month, is highly preposterous and extremely horrendous.


It is horrible for a group of people to deprive one of one’s right? If the crystal fact be divulged without being lilly-livered, this action by this bunch of fanatical Muslims represents a filthy wallop in the face of the Kwara state government under the leadership of AbdulRahmon AbdulRasaq.


In Chapter 4, Section 38 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, it is stated that “every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others and in public or private ) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief of worship, teaching, practice, and observance.”


In the light of the above, aside the moral inappropriateness of the action, it is unlawful and unscrupulous. Why must the faithful of another religion deprive another of their fundamental human right she ought to gleefully enjoy as a bonafide citizen of Nigeria moreover when the religious faith of those in question preaches peace?


To add salt to injury, the Emir of Ilorin, Ibrahim Kolapo Sulu Gambari said matter-of-fact that the priestess had been living harmoniously in the town for years, but stressing her decision to hold the Isese festival is tantamount to crossing the boundary. But l want to ask, which boundary did she cross? Is Ilorin meant only for Islam? Is Ilorin operating another constitution? It was not as if she is planning to hold the anniversary at the Eid praying ground!


The Isese Welfare Association, IWA, deserves a pat on the back. They swiftly showed their displeasure to the unsavoury, bellicose, and unlawful action through a press release dated July 5, 2023, signed by Aderemi Ifaolepin and Ifagbemisola Popoola, coordinator and secretary-general respectively.


Similarly, the Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka has added his voice to the matter calling out the Emir of Ilorin, totally condemning the action and going ahead to demand a national holiday be set aside for traditional festival too.


Meanwhile, I want to avail myself of this opportunity to heap castigation on the priestess for the degrading comment she uttered about her religion. In an interview she granted BBC News Yoruba, she said it was not her intention that the flier announcing her festival would gain wide publicity regretting it eventually did. This is uncalled for. This is unwarranted admission of guilt. I presume trepidation caused this submission, this is undoubtedly a disservice to traditional religion. She should have insisted on being protected by security agents.


This incident should be a wake up call to the traditionalists; they should neither sleep nor slumber; they should strenuously and licitly fight for their rights. They should go forward by the dictate of George Orwell that, “All animals are equal,” without bothering to be heckled by the other part of the dictate. This means no religion is superior to another. In the political milieu, it is obvious that there is an under-representation of indigenous religion adherents, and this is a cause for alarm. In Nigeria, lugubriously, uncontrollably and unapologetically, we have allowed religious extremism to overwhelm us and this keeps the country stagnant. Nigerians in general should cogitate on this.


As a matter of urgency, for peace to reign, the Emir of Ilorin, Ibrahim Sulu Gambari should call the overzealous fanatics to order and allow Oladipo Omolara to celebrate her festival with glitz and glamour. Of course, she has the right to do so. If you pinpoint a searchlight she is better off morally than most of those hypocrites stomping the ground as pious.


In the meantime, l want to call on the Kwara state government to not be lackadaisical in getting appropriate measures done to allay the fear of the threatened priestess and others. If anything sad occurs to the priestess, it will be a tautology to say those who threatened the lady deserves to be probed.


Orisatolu sends this piece from Ogbomoso

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