The Oyo State Police Command has warned religious groups to shun violence and tolerate one another during the forthcoming Oro festival in Iseyin community.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Shina Olukolu, gave the warning on Thursday at a stakeholders’ meeting on how to defuse the tension over the planned celebration of the Oro festival in Iseyin.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that there had been tension between the Muslim community and traditional religion worshipers in Iseyin over the Oro festival scheduled to hold between September 22 and October 8.
Olukolu said he was compelled to call the meeting to address the matter which had the potential of snowballing into a conflict of very serious magnitude that might disrupt the peace of the state if not properly managed.
The commissioner, who said the brewing misunderstanding had affected diverse groups in Iseyin, advised all the parties involved to shun violence and allow peace to reign.
He said: “Religion should not be the basis of our division and this meeting is to re-emphasise the need for tolerance to ensure that peace and tranquility reign in the state.
“The police and other security agencies in the state will not hesitate to bring to bear the full weight of the law on anyone involved in violence.”
In his remarks, a Muslim cleric, AbdulAkeem Olajobi, alleged that traditional religion worshippers were often sighted carrying different weapons during the Oro festival and restricting the movement of female residents.
The cleric, however, assured the commissioner that peace would reign based on the agreement reached by all parties during the meeting.
The Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria in Iseyin, Rev. Christopher Olugbade, also pledged to promote religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence.
A representative of traditional religion worshippers, Fadare Faniyi, however, said adherents were not preventing free movement of people during the celebration.
He pledged the commitment of his members to the peace agreement reached at the meeting.
The Aseyin of Iseyin, Oba Salawudeen AbdulGaniyu, said the parties had agreed that the Oro masquerade would only move about between the hours of 5:30pm and 4 am and would not promote violence.
In his remarks, Fatai Owoseni, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, called on religious leaders to control their followers to ensure that peace and development reigned in Iseyin and Oyo State in general.
Owoseni urged religious leaders to caution their followers to separate criminality from religion, saying unwholesome practices and beliefs had been introduced into religion.
According to him, the Seyi Makinde administration remains committed to the promotion of peace in the state.