By Samuel Ogunsona
The International Council for Ifa Religion (ICIR), has condemned the decision of Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Kolawole Sulu-Gambari, to cancel the popular Yoruba cultural ceremony (Isese festival) in Ilorin.
His decision has drawn the attention of some intellectuals which included Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, who condemned the Emir and said his action is an assault on civilized conducts.
However, Sulu-Gambari’s decision to cancel the Isese festival which was announced through his spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Arowona, last week said was a step taken to prevent crisis in Ilorin, Kwara State.
Abdul-Azeez Arowona had said, “This is to prevent crisis and not wait until it erupts because the cost of managing crises cannot be equated to the wisdom or courage required to prevent it”
ICIR said it was disappointed by the decision of the respected Emir and also condemned the invasion of Osun Priestess home in Ilorin.
The Ifa group said sequel to a thorough review of the various actions, pronouncements and commentaries on the brewing religious crisis in Ilorin, the umbrella body of global adherents of Ifa and Orisa with its Headquarters in Nigeria condemn the position of the Emir.
ICIR said it considers as very unfortunate and ominous the invasion of the home of an Osun priestess in Ilorin, the stoppage of the planned celebration of the Aje Cultural Festival by the Emir of Ilorin and the “open threat flagrantly and carelessly issued against the life of the poor woman,” as well as all traditionalists in the listed areas of Ilorin by some islamic clerics who claimed to have been sent by the monarch.
ICIR said considered those events and actions as a potential source of an upcoming fatal religious and human rights violence.
It urged the Kwara State Government to stem the tide.
“As an organization that promotes peace, humanity and love, ICIR wishes to condemn in totality the roles being directly played by the Emir of Ilorin and the ones being played indirectly through his islamic extremists.
ICIR hereby calls on the Kwara State Government to urgently initiate an inter-faith dialogue to enable each religion know that Nigeria remains a secular state and that no religion or faith is superior to another” the group said.
It argued that no respected monarch in Nigeria is supposed to encourage religious terrorism or religiously motivated harassment and threats.
“Therefore, the role of the Emir in impairing the freedom of one religion to the advantage of another, leaves much to be desired. It translates to religious intolerance which can snowball into a large scale war if not nipped in the bud. To this end, It is pertinent to make it clear to the Emir of Ilorin and all muslim leaders in the State that, according to the UN chatter of freedom, everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”
This right includes “freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community, with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance”.
ICIR hereby called on security Agencies in Kwara State to arrest those clerics who threatened and invaded the home of the Osun priestess. They should be brought arraigned and prosecuted for inciting religious violence and for terrorizing a fellow Nigerian citizen who was only exercising her freedom as enshrined in the Nigeria’s constitution among other documents.
ICIR said it has resolved to use all legal means available to stop religious marginalization, discrimination and slavery in any part of Nigeria where there are traditionalists.
“This is a way to strengthen the nation’s legal framework and deter a large scale religious warfare” the group said.