Masquerades attacked Muslims inside the Central Mosque in Ikun Ekiti, Moba Local Government Area of Ekiti state on Tuesday, 30thMay, 2017. The incident occurred around 7 pm in the evening when the Muslims had just broken their fast and they were observing the Maghrib prayer. Several worshippers were injured and some of them were hospitalised after the attack. Two cars parked outside the mosque were damaged. The mosque also suffered damage.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) strongly condemns this attack on peace-loving and law-abiding Muslims. It is most barbaric, most provocative and highly unacceptable.
This attack cannot be isolated from the hostile and belligerent attitude of the governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, towards Muslims in the state as well as their mosques. We are inclined to declare that the masquerades who attacked Muslims inside their mosques in Ikun Ekiti took the cue from the governor’s open hostility towards Ekiti Muslims and his determination to destroy mosques in the state. It is already clear that Fayose has declared Muslims in the state as persona non grata and their mosques legitimate targets for destruction.
MURIC therefore charges the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to wade into the matter before the total breakdown of law and order in the state. We demand immediate arrest and prosecution of the culprits. This will discourage reprisal attacks by those who feel that they have been victimized.
The fact that the Muslims were attacked inside their mosque is quite instructive. The masqueraders alleged that they had warned the Muslims not to pray during their Egungun festival. They claimed that the adhan(Muslim call to prayer) that was called provoked them.
This is nauseating. When did the Muslims’ adhan turn into a weapon of mass destruction? Who did the adhan injure? How can the prayers being offered by Muslims inside their own mosque become pernicious to the masquerades who were passing by? The worship of one faithful should not deter another from his own worship.
We admit that the masquerades have a right to mark their festival. But their right stops where that of the Muslims starts. Egungun worshippers have no right under the sun to enter the mosque in the first place, talk less of going there to attack those inside with dangerous weapons. Their right to hold a rally and go round the city of Ikun Ekiti stops at the doorsteps of the mosque. They can pass by but they should not enter the mosque.
Every Nigerian knows the times that Muslims observe prayers. Those masquerades or their sponsors have no right to ask Muslims to suspend their prayer because they want to pass. We Muslims love our neighbours and we are prepared to coexist peacefully but on equal terms. We are not second class citizens and we will not accept intimidation of any kind.
We assert the right of Muslims to call the adhanand pray at the scheduled times. No homo sapiens should deprive them of this Allah-given fundamental human right. Freedom of religion is firmly entrenched in the Nigerian constitution, not freedom for one religion to laud it over the other. Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is very clear about this.
This attack has blown the lid off the myth of religious tolerance in the South West. There is nothing like it. Muslims are facing persecution in Yorubaland. The wind has blown. We have seen the ruff of the hen. The reality is that religious tolerance in the South West is restricted to relations, colleagues at work and known faces.
This is why Muslims and Christians may live together in the same house without fighting. It does not extend to unknown faces. It does not accommodate the institution of religion itself. Religious tolerance in the South West is therefore a farce, a mirage. Unless something is done urgently to address this ugly phenomenon, religious crisis in the South West hangs above our heads like the sword of Damocles.
For instance, none of the masquerades who attacked the Muslims inside their mosque on that day will fight any of his siblings at home for being a Muslim. Neither will he attack his Muslim colleague at work. But he will be among the first to cry foul if Muslims make any demand as a corporate body. There is no genuine love, no real tolerance. This is the bitter truth.
It is therefore high time the wings of traditional worshippers were clipped. They arrogate illegitimate powers to themselves, e.g. by unilaterally declaring curfews for the purpose of rituals. No followers of one religion should have the power to restrict the movements of adherents of another religion. Yet this is what traditional religionists have been doing over the years. The police often ignore this breach of the law and allow traditionalists to unleash reign of terror on law-abiding citizens.
Yet again we have a lesson to draw here. This kind of incident is what often leads to terrorism. Muslims are often accused of being violent. Our contention is that violence or terrorism is ordinary smoke and there can never be smoke without fire. The fire of terrorism is provocation. Those who deride Muslims, those who stigmatise them and those who encroach on Allah-given and fundamental human rights of Muslims are the real terrorists. Worse still, law enforcement agents who refuse to take action against those who provoke Muslims are equally culpable. What action has the Ekiti Police Command taken after the brutalization of Muslims by masquerades in Ikun Ekiti mosque?
As we round up, we call on the IGP to quickly wade into the furore. Masquerades who attacked Muslims inside the mosque in Ikun Ekiti must be arrested and prosecuted for, breaking and entering, willful damage, thuggery, hooliganism, attempted murder and breach of the peace. The Nigerian Police must nip illegal curfews in the bud by making a strong statement banning unauthorised curfew anywhere in Nigeria.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)