The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has raised the alarm over looming religious crisis in the South West sub-region of the country due to the decision of certain traditional worshipers to impose curfew during Eid-el-Kabir celebration to celebrate their Isheshe Festival.
The director MURIC, Prof Ishaq Akintola in a statement issued on Sunday, called on the Lagos State government (LASG) in particular and other state governments in Yorubaland to avert religious crisis by calling them to order.
The group which noted that traditional worshippers were set to observe today as their Isheshe Day, said the traditionalists have, therefore, declared a general curfew to restrict the movements of people.
The organisation said foresee trouble as the curfew declared for Isheshe Day is most likely to cause serious friction because Muslims throughout the federation will be marking Id al-Kabiir on Tuesday, 21st August, 2018 and millions of Muslims are already moving from one part of the country to the other.
MURIC, described the curfew imposed by Oro worshippers as illegal, unlawful, illegitimate and unconstitutional.
“It is calculated to cause a breach of the peace. Oro worshippers are deliberately looking for trouble.
“Chapter 4 Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) says, ‘Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom.
“Besides, only the state government on the advice of the state commissioner of police can impose curfew on a town. Even then, such imposition must be based on adverse security report.
“Traditionalists are taking the law into their hands. They have become another government on their own. This is unacceptable.
“Traditionalists have frequently usurped this power without being challenged. It is very unfortunate that state governments in the region lack the political will to enforce the law.
“They are afraid of the traditionalists. Worse still, the police and other law enforcement agents appear to be complicit as they adopt a lackadaisical attitude towards the excesses of traditional worshippers.
“It is not only cowardly but hypocritical to look the other way when one lawless group takes actions that are indubitably ultra vires while the same governments threaten hell and brimstone when other groups attempt to claim their Allah-given fundamental rights. Are we to assume that the only language which our state governments understand is force?”
It asserted that it is the right of Muslims to freely move around anywhere in the country Tuesday 21st August, 2018 is Id al-Kabir day and the federal government has declared Tuesday and Wednesday as holidays.
It explained that,’’ nobody has the right or the power to take those days from us. Neither does anybody have the right to make it impossible for Muslims heading towards their various towns to reach their various destinations.
“For the avoidance of doubts, MURIC is not averse to the declaration of a day for traditionalists. We made this clear in our statement issued on 10th May, 2018. We believe in equal rights. What we oppose is a situation whereby one religious group lords it over another. Traditionalists must respect the law.
“Traditional worshippers need to be told that they have limits. Christians and Muslims have never restricted the movements of adherents of other faiths. So why must traditionalists always compel others to remain indoors whenever they want to worship? Why must God be worshipped in secret? Their curfews have affected church and mosque goers in the past.”
MURIC recalled that it had also affected candidates writing critical examinations like WAEC and that means their curfews are counter-productive.
“This must not be allowed to continue,” it added.
“We therefore call on the governors of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun and Ekiti states to call traditional worshippers to order. The traditional rulers of all Yoruba towns can be easily reached. “They will pass the message to the leaders of traditional worshippers. Muslims will not surrender their Allah-given fundamental rights at this crucial moment.
“As we draw the curtain, we charge law enforcement agents in the region to perform their duties. Muslims traveling during this period need protection. :Traditionalists must be held responsible for any breakdown of law and order if any Muslim is attacked by those who want to illegally restrict his or her movement.”
It appealed to traditional rulers in Yorubaland to prevail on leaders of traditional worshippers to immediately lift the illegal curfew in the interest of peace, law and order.
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