Following the ‘threat’ by the Traditional Worshippers Association of Osun State to march on Iwo town in Osun State for what they described as the Oluwo’s disrespect for traditional religion, an Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has cautioned the traditionalists against the move, noting that such will be open confrontation, an invitation to chaos and flagrant disregard for the rule of law.
This was disclosed in statement on Monday, by the director and founder of the organization, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
The statement reads:
“The Traditional Worshippers Association of Osun State has threatened to march on Iwo town in Osun State for what they described as the Oluwo’s disrespect for traditional religion. The traditionalists gave a 21-day ultimatum within which the Oluwo must publicly apologise for his unguarded statements against the traditionalists or face the consequences. The group threatened to demand the deposition of the Oluwo unless the king met their demand.
“We will like to caution the traditionalists against carrying out their threat because of the implications of invading a whole city at a time when Nigeria is facing dire security challenges. Such invasion will tantamount to open confrontation, an invitation to chaos and disregard for the rule of law.
“In the first place, indigenes of the city are likely to come out in defence of their king. This may result in a bloody clash whose consequences cannot be foreseen at the moment. Secondly, such invasion shows disregard for the rule of law because there is freedom of speech and anyone who finds Oluwo’s declarations distasteful or defamatory should go to court instead of embarking on a show of force.
“Thirdly, invading Iwo town may not go down well with Muslims in Osun State in particular and Yorubaland in general because Iwo is traditionally known as ‘Ilu Alfa’, meaning ‘city of Islamic scholars’. The planned invasion by traditionalists may therefore be seen as an attack on the base of Islam in Yorubaland.
“We note with deep concern that traditionalists in Yorubaland prefer to monopolise Muslim traditional rulers in such a way that the latter pay no attention to Islam and Muslims but concentrate on traditional rites alone.
“However, we note with satisfaction that the Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdul Rasheed Akanbi, stands out among Muslim rulers in Osun State who manifests consciousness of his faith. He has taken giant steps to revive pristine Islam in Iwoland. He has also openly identified with Islam as his religion. We therefore have every reason to believe that this is the real reason for the planned invasion of Iwo town by traditionalists.
“We see no reason why traditionalists should pick offence if the Oluwo identifies himself with Islam because he has not disallowed tradionalists from worshipping their gods. The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Section 38 (i) & (ii) grants every Nigerian citizen the right to worship as well as the right to manifest his religion freely. The Oluwo is also covered by this constitutional provision and he must be allowed to ‘worship’ and ‘manifest’ according to his conscience.
“Traditionalists have no right to insist that a king must be a traditional worshipper. The king is the ruler over all subjects in the town and this includes Christians, Muslims and traditionalists. The attempt to restrict the king to traditional worshipping alone and to attack the Oluwo because he is a Muslim is an exhibition of religious intolerance.
“MURIC appeals to the Osun State Police Command to take the threat issued by the traditionalists very seriously. No group, no matter how powerful, has the right to threaten the peace of the land. The police must be proactive in handling this matter so that the diabolical plan of the traditionalists can be nipped in the bud.
“We alert the Government of the State of Osun to the hidden blackmail in the threat to invade Iwo town unless the government calls Oluwo to order. Government must not allow itself to be railroaded into taking any action capable of provoking the teeming majority Muslim population of the state. Outsiders cannot determine what the people of Iwo want.
“The good people of Iwo want Oba Rasheed Akanbi on the throne. Muslims in Yorubaland are pleased with him. Traditionalists have no right to demand his dethronement. It is an exhibition of intolerance on the part of the traditionalists to demand the deposition of an Oba just because he does not dance to their tune. It will be a dangerous precedence if traditionalists are allowed to dictate to government. The Oyetola administration must be firm.
“In addition, Government has a duty to protect the law abiding and hardworking people of Iwo town from the planned invasion of traditionalists. The primary duty of government is to ensure the security of lives and properties. Section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Constituion (as amended), states inter alia : ‘the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government’ and that presupposes that it is a reference to government at both the federal and state levels.”