The Muslim Rights Concern has cried out to the Lagos State government in particular and other state governments in Yorubaland (Ogun, Oyo, Osun and Ekiti) to avert the looming religious crisis in the sub-region.
In a statement issued to the press and signed by its director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, the group lamented that traditional worshippers are set to observe Monday, 20th August, 2018 as Isheshe Day, thus, restricting the movement of people.
It said: “The organization foresees trouble as the curfew declared for Isheshe Day is most likely to cause serious friction because Muslims throughout the federation will be marking Id al-Kabiir on Tuesday, 21st August, 2018 and millions of Muslims are already moving from one part of the country to the other.”
Akintola described the curfew imposed by Oro worshippers as “illegal, unlawful, illegitimate and unconstitutional” stressing that it restricts the right of free movement of the people.
He said: “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. They have become another government on their own. This is unacceptable. 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.
“It is not only cowardly but hypocritical to look the other way when one lawless group takes actions that are indubitably ultra vires while the same governments threaten hell and brimstone when other groups attempt to claim their Allah-given fundamental rights. Are we to assume that the only language which our state governments understand is force?
“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 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.”
It further clarified that the group is not against the declaration of a day for traditionalists; however, no religious group should be more superior to the other.
It said: ““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.”
Akintola called on the governors of the south-western states to call the traditional worshippers in their domain to order as Muslims will not relinquish their “Allah-given fundamental rights” and the law enforcement agents should be ready to do their duties.