- The Council of Ulama (Islamic clerics) in Kwara State had 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 planned Isese festival in Ilorin, the capital of Kwara State, has been postponed, according to the International Council for Ifa Religion, which made the announcement on Tuesday.
According to a statement in Abuja and signed by the Council’s President, Oluwo Solagbade Popoola, the festival’s temporary suspension was issued to prevent conflicts. The council also charged the Police with harbouring animus towards the Ifa faith.
The statement reads, “Yesterday, August 14, 2023, our representatives attended a meeting with the Kwara State Police Commissioner in Ilorin after having been invited in respect of our Letter of Notification on the proposed celebration of the Isese Day slated to hold in Ilorin on the 20th August 2023.
“The outcome of the meeting was the prohibition of the hosting of the festival purportedly as a result of what they called rising tension in the State. ICIR is not unaware that police authorities have the power to enforce laws and regulations, maintain public order, and ensure the safety and security of the community. They can also, under certain circumstances, impose restrictions or place a ban on specific events or activities if they deem it necessary for public safety, law enforcement, or other legitimate reasons.
“Nevertheless, the ban placed on our Isese Festival has been viewed from a legal perspective as an abuse of the fundamental rights of all traditionalists in Kwara State. It has also been seen as a testimony to the fact that the police authorities were already prejudiced against our faith. The ban is the first to be imposed on any lawful religious gathering in the entire history of Kwara State to the advantage of the antagonists of such an event.
“Although we are not unaware of the clandestine moves, efforts, and preparation by some disgruntled elements within the Islamic faith to unleash unwarranted attacks on some of our members in Kwara State before, during, and after the August 20 proposed events.
We had wanted to go ahead in the hope that the Security Agencies would do their best to put a check on the unbridled lust of the bellicose Islamists for war thereby enabling us to exercise our fundamental rights as an organisation.
It is therefore shocking to realise that those whose role it is to enforce the law, ensure peace and maintain orderliness indirectly declared that they have neither the capacity nor the political willpower to so do and would rather deny us our rights to please those they are expected to caution.
“As an organisation that respects the sanctity of human life and holds high our belief in Olodumare as the giver of life, ICIR will never wish evil for anyone regardless of their faith or creed. We, the traditionalists, being the original owners of the land, would never allow descent into bloodletting or be provoked to dance to a drumbeat of war by any other religion.
“As a true religion of peace, we have never and will never engage anyone in a religious war let alone shedding human blood for the sake of religion. We are aware of the fact that their overzealousness notwithstanding, the majority of these foreign religious fanatics are fellow Yoruba people. If we allow any confrontation to take place and we hurt any of them, we have hurt ourselves because they are our brothers.
On the other hand, if they hurt any of us, we have hurt ourselves because a brother has inflicted injury on a fellow brother. We will follow the directive of Olodumare and Ifa which says that on no condition must we allow the cloud of confrontation to descend into rainfall of confrontation. We will continue to, in this wise, pray to Olodumare to turn their heart of stone into a heart of flesh and blood
“In light of the above, ICIR has taken a decision that it feels critical to the current situation. We have resolved to put the planned festival on hold till a more propitious time in the future. In the light of this, on behalf of ICIR, I plead with our members, particularly those in Kwara State, all ‘Isese’ groups, inclusive of members of our Youth Wing, to take the cancellation with equanimity.”