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Religious crisis looms in South West – MURIC warns

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has cried out to the governments of Southwest states to avert what it termed looming religious crisis in the region.

A statement on Sunday by its Director, Prof Ishaq Akintola said traditional worshippers are set to observe Monday 20th August, 2018 as Isheshe Day.

MURIC lamented that the traditionalists have declared a general curfew to restrict movement, a development it warned may cause serious friction as Muslims will mark Sallah on Tuesday, 21st August.

The statement noted: “Oro worshippers are deliberately looking for trouble. Chapter 4 Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) says, ‘Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereby or exit therefrom.’

“Besides, only the state government on the advice of the state commissioner of police can impose curfew on a town. Even then, such imposition must be based on adverse security report.

“Traditionalists are taking the law into their hands. Traditionalists have frequently usurped this power without being challenged. It is very unfortunate that state governments in the region lack the political will to enforce the law. They are afraid of the traditionalists. Worse still, the police and other law enforcement agents appear to be complicit as they adopt a lackadaisical attitude towards the excesses of traditional worshippers.

“We assert the right of Muslims to freely move around anywhere in this country. Tuesday 21st August, 2018 is Id al-Kabiir day and the Federal Government (FG) has declared Tuesday and Wednesday as holidays. Nobody has the right or the power to take those days from us. Neither does anybody have the right to make it impossible for Muslims heading towards their various towns to reach their various destinations.

“For the avoidance of doubts, MURIC is not averse to the declaration of a day for traditionalists. We made this clear in our statement issued on 10th May, 2018. We believe in equal rights. What we oppose is a situation whereby one religious group lords it over another. Traditionalists must respect the law.

“Traditional worshippers need to be told that they have limits. Christians and Muslims have never restricted the movements of adherents of other faiths. So why must traditionalists always compel others to remain indoors whenever they want to worship? Why must God be worshipped in secret? Their curfews have affected church and mosque goers in the past. It has also affected candidates writing critical examinations like WAEC and that means their curfews are counter-productive. This must not be allowed to continue.

“We therefore call on the governors of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun and Ekiti states to call traditional worshippers to order. The traditional rulers of all Yoruba towns can be easily reached. They will pass the message to the leaders of traditional worshippers. Muslims will not surrender their Allah-given fundamental rights at this crucial moment.”

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