By Tope Alabi
Conversations around the power of religion in Nigeria, have remained a sensitive topic amongst citizens. Nigeria, today, boasts of three major religions; Christianity, Islam, and Indigenous worship. All three over the last year have continued to fight to protect the laws and beliefs governing their practices.
In this piece, we will be discussing the four times in the last year, religion won in its bid to protect the beliefs of its respective practitioners in the country.
Your sins are forgiven
An Easter advert in April 2022 by Sterling Bank, comparing the Resurrection of Jesus Christ to a popular bread in Nigeria called “Agege Bread, sparked an outcry amongst many, especially devout Christians in the country.
The advert’s message, “Like Agege Bread, He rose,” published alongside a picture of the bread divided into two halves, was considered blasphemous by Christians who immediately called for its retraction and removal of the Chief Executive Officer of Sterling Bank, Abubakar Suleiman,
A PR practitioner Akonte Ekine, speaking on the issue, felt the “association with Agege brand of bread was an attempt to use the word of Jesus describing Himself as the bread of Life.”
Responding to the advert, the Christian Association of Nigeria, in a statement tagged the advert ‘ungodly.’ The statement read in part, “The attention of the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria has been drawn to an ungodly, wicked, insensitive, and deliberately provocative advertisement of Sterling Bank, comparing the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ to ‘Agege bread.
Sterling Bank eventually deleted the advert and tendered an apology to CAN which responded by stating that the financial institution had been forgiven. ‘As a result of this development, CAN has resolved to forgive Sterling Bank and its Chief Executive. We always remember that ‘to err is human and to forgive is divine.’
Davido Vs Muslim community
”This scammer should dare not set foot in the North.”
Unlike Sterling Bank, forgiveness did not look like a route a Muslim devotee was looking to ply following the release of a music clip by popular Nigerian artiste David Adeleke, best known as Davido.
Davido on July 21, released a 45-second clip from the music video of his signee, Olamilekan Taiwo, aka Logos Olori titled, ‘Jaye Lo,’ on his social media pages.
The video featured some Muslim clerics outside a mosque dancing, an act many Muslim devotees criticised tagging that particular scene as disrespectful.
Some devotees soon began to lambast the singer and his signee and even with some threats alongside. Davido was also told to delete the clip from his pages and the actual music video.
A tweep, Yaya Abba, reacting to the clip, tweeted, “Davido and this scammer should dare not set foot in the North. We Muslims don’t tolerate disrespect towards our religion. You don’t see Muslims making fun of others, I don’t know why you disrespect ours. We’ll never forget or forgive these two.”
A look at Davido’s social media pages, days ago, indicated that the award-winning-artiste gave in to their demands and has since deleted the clips off his pages.
Kwara Muslim clerics/Isese worshippers
“Ilorin does not permit idol worshipping, we are ardent Muslims in the land of the emirate.”
A Muslim group, Majlisu Shabab li Ulamahu Society, in Ilorin, Kwara State, recently made the news after a video surfaced on Facebook showing them storming the home of an indigenous religious priestess, Yeye Adesikemi Olokun Omolara Olatunji, to warn her against holding a planned festival organised by the priestess.
The clerics stated in the video that Kwara State is home to Muslims and the land does not permit idol worshipping. “We are here on behalf of the Emir of Ilorin to ask that you desist from any Isese. We are also backed by the laws of the land. We are not here to fight you but to warn you against this celebration,” one of the Imams states in the video.
Yeye Omolara was not only harassed, but her life like Davido’s was also threatened.
Speaking in Yoruba on her Facebook page, she recounted her ordeal saying: ”I have been living in Ilorin for many years and have experienced nothing but peace until recently. I have always been fair and kind to my neighbours and this has been reciprocated over the years.
”One of my people shared the invite online which caught the attention of the Imams. In a matter of hours, I was tagged on numerous posts and also began to receive death threats.
“I also heard that meetings were being held to ensure that the Aje festival does not hold in Ilorin.”
The Osun priestess eventually moved her planned Isese festival to Lagos State.
“We find this advert to be insensitive, offensive, and unacceptable”
April 10, 2023, the Christian Association of Nigeria condemned an Easter advert by FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria PLC, makers of Peak Milk, tagging the advert as offensive.
Peak Milk in its Good Friday advert, used the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as a metaphor to promote its product, a move immediately called out by CAN.
General Secretary of CAN, Joseph Daramola, addressing the issue wrote, “We find this advert to be insensitive, offensive, and unacceptable. Good Friday is a solemn day for Christians all over the world, a day we commemorate the death of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who was crucified on the cross for our sins. It is not a day to be used for crass commercial purposes,” Daramola said.
The advert was eventually pulled down and an apology was tendered alongside.