African Story: Muslims clash with Masquerades and Followers in Oyo State, Nigeria
Not more than 25 people have reportedly been injured in a fracas between Muslims faithful and some Egungun worshippers (Masqueraders) in Oke-Ogun area of Oyo state.
The incident occured on Wednesday, during celebration of the 20th coronation anniversary of the traditional ruler of the town, Oba Moshood Aweda Lawal Arowoduye 11.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Abiodun Odude confirmed the clash saying it happened as a result of a misunderstanding. He said the police in investigating the cause and that no life was lost. Odude revealed that the state police command has now provided adequate security to restore peace in the town.
According to Daily Post, the problem started on Tuesday when a Muslim cleric identified as Alfa Lati insisted that masqueraders observing the annual Egungun festival should not pass through his street located at Koso, Mapo area of the town. The Egungun worshippers felt challenged and embarrassed by the order and decided to dare Alfa Lati. They said the street belonged to everyone regardless of their religious attachment and that no one could stop them from moving freely. They passed through the street, leading to a clash, a source told Daily Post.
It was also gathered that following an instruction from Alfa Lati, his followers reportedly attacked the masquerade (Egungun) with stones and other dangerous weapons, a situation that forced the Egungun to remove his mask, and ran for dear life. The masqueraders then planned a reprisal which they carried out on Wednesday. They were also angered that the masks of the masqueraders were removed which they considered a sacrilege and a bad omen. During the second clash, at least 15 people were injured and taken to a hospital in a nearby town for treatment while some were taken to the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin, Kwara state.
Reacting to the incident, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the International Council for Ifa Religion, Oyo state chapter, Baba Awo Awogbemiga Bogunmbe called on the police and other security agencies to ensure that justice is done. While condemning the attack on the Egungun worshipers, Bogunmbe noted that the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria makes the country a multi-religious one in which every citizen is free to practice whatever religion of his or her choice.
It was also gathered that the Kishi monarch summoned a security meeting on Wednesday, urging that the Egungun festival be halted until the coronation anniversary ended.
By Chukwuemeka Chigozie