The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has sent a Save Our Soul (S. O. S.) message to the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, regarding the forceful abduction and initiation of Muslims against their will by the Awo Opa Cult in Ikorodu. MURIC described the practice as criminal and illegal.
This was revealed in a statement issued by the organisation on Wednesday, 19th January, 2022. The statement was signed by the group’s leader, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
“Madam Bilkis Alaba Taiwo, a Muslim and member of the Ikorodu Muslim Community Association, was forcefully initiated into the Awo Opa Cult of Ikorodu in Lagos State on Thursday, 9th December, 2021 after dragging her into the shrine and after forcing her to swallow a concoction.
“We strongly denounce this criminal act. It is illegal, illegitimate, unlawful and unconstitutional. It is capable of causing a breakdown of law and order.
“Investigations have revealed that many Muslims and Christians alike have been abducted in the same manner by the Awo Opa Cult of Ikorodu. One example is Mr. Majiyagbe, the secretary of Asalatu group of Ikorodu who was kidnapped some time ago and forcefully taken to Osugbo cult shrine.
“MURIC realizes the essence of peaceful coexistence. But the religious intolerance and forceful conversion being carried out by the traditionalists is a threat to religious harmony. Traditionalists are in the habit of forcefully initiating a member of the family of any of their members who dies. Thus they parade themselves as people who are above the law.
“We hereby send a Save Our Soul (S. O. S.) message to the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, to rise to the occasion before the current tension escalates and a full-blown conflict breaks out between traditionalists and Muslims in Ikorodu division of Lagos State.
“The obnoxious practice of abduction and forceful initiation of Muslims and Christians into traditional religion as being done by traditionalists in Ikorodu stands in contra-distinction to the spirit and letter of Section 38(i) & (ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In addition, Article 9 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights & Fundamental Freedoms lays emphasis on respect for the religious feelings of all people of the world.
“Abduction of citizens by the Awo Opa cult restricts the movement of such citizens. It therefore breaches Section 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which says inter alia, ‘Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof…’
“By rough-handling their victims and by forcing concoctions down their throats, the cultists have further violated the provisions of Section 34 (b) & (c) of the 1999 Constitution which affirms the right of every individual to respect for the dignity of his person and (b) prescribes that no person shall be held in slavery or servitude and (c) emphasizes that no person shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.
“The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Article 4, Clause 1 & 2 also says, ‘Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person.’
“The proliferation of criminality in Nigeria has never been due to any absence of laws proscribing criminal acts. Our Archile’s heel has always been the lack of will to use the legal instruments at the disposal of authorities to stop criminality. We therefore appeal to the Commissioner of Police to use his good office to stop the illegal practice of forceful abduction and initiation by the Awo Opa Cult of Ikorodu, Lagos State.
“We demand the investigation of circumstances surrounding the abduction, unlawful detention, traumatization and forceful initiation of Madam Bilkis Alaba Taiwo. Furthermore, we demand that those found to have been responsible for her trauma and forceful initiation be dealt with according to the laws of the land.
“It is on record that thousands of Muslims resident in Ikorodu staged a peaceful demonstration over the incident two weeks ago. Nobody can forecast their next line of action particularly if any Muslim is abducted again by the traditionalists. It is only the timely action of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police that can placate the Muslims in Ikorodu.”