A Catholic seminarian, Lawrence Ezeugwu, was attacked by masquerades in Nsukka on Wednesday, 29th March, 2017. The Catholic priest was beaten to coma by a group of masquerades popularly called Oriokpa who blocked the road at Ugwuoyia, Nsukka.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) condemns this wanton exhibition of religious extremism by traditionalists. It is crude, barbaric and symptomatic of thuggery and hooliganism.
We call the attention of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FG) to the excesses of traditionalists particularly in Southern Nigeria. Even in the South West, the Oro cult worshippers behave as if they are above the law. Traditionalists impose illegal curfew without being challenged by the authorities.
A good example is the curfew imposed by Oro cultists in Ikorodu, Lagos State, during the last Ramadan season which nearly caused a violent clash between Muslims and traditionalists. It is well known that Muslims shuttle between the mosques and their homes day and night during Ramadan. The imposition of a curfew during such a period was not only illegal but also provocative.
Although the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Section 38 (i) & (ii) guarantees freedom of religion thereby empowering traditionalists to freely practice their faith, it does not allow one group to laud it over another. The right of traditionalists to religious freedom stops where it begins to encroach on others’ rights and vice versa.
For genuine and enduring peace, Nigerians must learn to respect one anothers’ rights. This country has witnessed too many human and material losses as a result of religious crisis and the only way to guard against recurrence is for the authorities to strictly apply sanctions against those who violate the sanctity of religious freedom.
MURIC therefore appeals to the Inspector General of Police (IG) to ensure that the masquerades who attacked the Catholic priest are duly punished. State and local governments must also ban illegal proclamation of curfews by cultists.
Anything short of these will be an invitation to chaos as citizens who are conscious of their right to freedom of movement as stipulated in Section 41 (i) of the 1999 Constitution may be tempted to challenge any illegal imposition of curfew and defend themselves.
Finally, we remind the security agencies that they have a big role to play in this issue because it is becoming glaring that cultists are getting more daring due to the nonchalant attitude of security agents. The police and other security agents need to be more proactive. They should stop any illegally imposed curfew in the interest of law and order instead of folding their hands watching how different religious groups slog it out.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC),
E-mail: [email protected]
Yahoo Group: groups.yahoo.com/group/muslimrights