Ogun: Imam kicks, as Oro adherents declare curfew to mark festival

From Peter Moses, Abeokuta

An Imam in Ogun State, Al-Imam Abdulwaliy, has rejected a curfew declared by traditionalists as part of measures to mark this year’s Oro/Orisa Oba festival in Ipokia Local Government Area of the state.

Abdulwaliy, popularly known as Omoakin, said the curfew declared to allow them to observe the ritual in the daytime, contravenes several court judgements and peace pact, banning such practice during the festival.

He said the curfew if not reversed could plunge the community and the state into a religious crisis.

The cleric is the Chief Imam of Umar bin Khattab Mosque, Odan-Aje, Idi-Iroko, which was invaded during prayer hours by the Oro adherents in 2019.

Daily Trust recalls that the traditionalists in August 2019, stormed the mosque and dispersed Muslims who were observing the afternoon prayers, for allegedly acting contrary to their warning during the ritual. The mosque was left with glasses and windows shattered.

Shortly after the attack stakeholders in the area met and entered into a peace agreement to curtain recurrence of such crisis.

But speaking with Daily Trust, Abdulwaliy said the Oro adherents had already declared curfew in Idiroko, Ipokia and other parts of the state, as this year’s festival begins on Saturday.

This, he said, contradicts court judgement and recent peace pact signed by the stakeholders in the area.

He expressed concern that the Oro adherents could continue to hold residents “hostage” by denying them their freedom under the guise of a yearly ritual.

He said: “It remains surprising that Oro/Orisa Oba members in Ipokia Local Government continue to pay deaf ears to different peace agreements reached between Muslims/Christians and traditional adherents in Ipokia.

“Meanwhile, a restriction order has been placed on the celebration of Oro/Orisa Oba festival during the daytime; restricting the celebration to hold between 12 am and 4 am.

“The judgment of the High Court of Justice, Ilaro Judicial Division (15th Aug 2017); High Court of Justice, Ipokia Judicial Division (30th January 2018), peace agreements reached among religious stakeholders in Ipokia Local Government (August 2019 and February 2020), all condemned daytime celebration of Oro/Orisa Oba festival.

“For peace to reign in our society, all the above stand firmly against the celebration of Oro/Orisa Oba festival during the daytime.”

The cleric called on the state government, security agencies and other stakeholders to call the Oro adherents to order to allow peace to reign in the state.

He said they should restrict their festival to midnight, adding that “no religion should deny people their right to movement and the practice of their religion.”

When contacted, the Caretaker Chairman of the council, Kabiru Abolurin told Daily Trust that a peace meeting had been called to address the matter on Thursday at the LG Secretariat, Ipokia.

He confirmed that there were court judgements and peace pacts banning daytime rituals of Oro/Orisa Oba in the council.

Abolurin said security agencies have been alerted to ensure the adherents abide by the judgement and peace pacts to guarantee peace and tranquillity in the state.

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