By Tunde Oyekola
The Council of Ulama (Islamic clerics) in Kwara State on Tuesday warned those planning to celebrate traditional religion or Ifa festival in Ilorin, the state capital, to retrace their steps.
The council warned that Ifa festival, under any guise, would not be allowed in any part of Ilorin Emirate, comprising Asa, Moro, Ilorin East, Ilorin West and Ilorin South local government areas.
The executive secretary of the council, Justice Salihu Mohammed made the position of the council known at a press conference held in Ilorin.
Mohammed, a former Grand Khadi of Kwara state Sharia Court of Appeal spoke on behalf of the chairman of the Council of Ulama and Chief Imam of Ilorin, Sheik Bashir Salihu.
The Secretary who said that Ilorin, Kwara state capital was known as sanctuary of Islam for more than 200 years and renowned for Islamic faith, practice, Spirituality and Knowledge stated that the insistence of the youth wing of the International Council for Ifa Religion( ICIR) to hold their festival in Ilorin on August 20th 2023, posed danger to the security of lives and property across the state.
“It is in the light of this that we have found it extremely necessary to plead with the Kwara State government and all stakeholders to appeal to the ICIR and similar interest groups to stay away from Ilorin as available evidence convinced us that the staging of the event in Ilorin would have a serious negative consequence on the peace of Kwara State.
“We are not unmindful of the pillage of aspersions and insults mounted on our father, the Emir of Ilorin and chairman, Council of Emirs and Chiefs in Kwara State, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari by individuals that are expected to know better, which are unfortunate, condemnable and inexcusable.
“We don’t think any individuals or group has anything to gain from destruction of the harmonious coexistence. The people of Ilorin Emirate, particularly the Kwara State Council of Ulama cannot be coerced by any person or group of persons claiming to be representing intellectualism or atheistic practices to destroy what our forefathers have fought for.
“As community and opinion leaders in our various places of abode, we are not unaware of the readiness of various youth groups never to allow the staging of the so called ‘isese’ festival anywhere in Ilorin .
“To them, such activities would pollute the peace and tranquillity of the community as it is also been seen as invasion and an act of cultural imperialism.
“We as leaders, see merit in the position of the Muslim youths. We sincerely believe that it is unwise and wrong for non residents of a community to forcefully impose imported thoughts or practices on their hosts . This is repugnant to natural justice and it will certainly lead to the brake down of law and order.”
“We must make it abundantly clear that we are not against the celebration of isese festival. What is important to let the whole World know is that we , the people of Ilorin, have absolutely nothing to do with it. We understand the motive of their sinister and abominable move but warn that Ilorin have moved on.
“The Emirate might be a Yoruba-speaking city, it must be realized that its present culture is no longer that of Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani, Nupe or any other, but purely an Islamic culture. We, therefore, advise that they should allow peace to reign across Nigeria. All we are saying is that it should not be held where the celebrators and celebration would not be welcomed. Ilorin is certainly not among the places that should be considered for such a festival if the organisers are patriotic and well-meaning”, Mohammed said.
While appealing to Muslim youths and other stakeholders to exercise patience, Mohammed appealed to Kwara state governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, ” to direct all the security agencies in the state to take note of this threat to the peace and security of the state. A stitch in time saves nine.”
At the press conference were the Imam Gambari, Ajanasi Agba, Sheikh Yusuf Pakata, Professor Badmas Yusuf, two former grand Khadis, Justices Idris Haroon and Ola AbdulKadir; former president of Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU), Alh AbdulHamid Adi; and representatives of Imams and Alfas from all the 16 local government areas of the state.
Recall that the Kwara State Police Command had advised the. International Council for Ifa Religion (ICIR) who are behind the planning of holding the Isese festival to relocate the event to another state as the security report did not favour the celebration of the festival in Ilorin.
“Vigilante, local hunters, community policing members, and the leadership of the traditional worshippers in Kwara, along with some of their leaders from adjoining states, have also been dialogued with and made to understand that the intelligence available to the Police Command does not favor the kind of celebrations being planned by one of the religious sects in the state; they have been advised to relocate their celebration to another state pending a favorable security situation in the state, the Police Command said in the statement signed by SP Okasanmi Ajayi, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) on behalf of the state Commissioner of Police, Mrs Ebbunoluwarotimi Adelesi.