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Tensions Rise As Islamic Clerics Call For Ban On Ifa Festival Celebrations In Ilorin

Israel Adeleke

 

The Council of Ulama (Islamic clerics) in Kwara State has advised individuals planning to participate in the traditional religious festival known as Isese or Ifa festival in Ilorin, the state capital, to refrain from doing so, citing concerns about the security of lives and property.

At a briefing on Tuesday, the Council warned that the Ifa festival, in any form, would not be permitted in any part of the Ilorin Emirate, which includes Asa, Moro, Ilorin East, Ilorin West, and Ilorin South Local Government Areas.

Recall that the Kwara State Police Command had earlier advised the promoters of the festival, the International Council for Ifa Religion (ICIR), to relocate the event to another state.

They claimed that the security report did not support the celebration of the festival in Ilorin.

Therefore, the Executive Secretary of the council and a former Grand Khadi of Kwara State Sharia Court of Appeal, Salihu Mohammed, spoke on behalf of the Chairman of the Council of Ulama and Chief Imam of Ilorin, Sheik Bashir Salihu on the issue.

He stated, “We don’t believe any individuals or groups have anything to gain from the disruption of harmonious coexistence.

“The people of Ilorin Emirate, particularly the Kwara State Council of Ulama, cannot be coerced by any person or group claiming to represent intellectualism or atheistic practices into destroying what our forefathers fought for.

“As community and opinion leaders in our respective places of residence, we are aware of the determination of various youth groups to prevent the staging of the so-called ‘Isese’ festival anywhere in Ilorin.

“They view such activities as a disruption of the community’s peace and tranquility, an invasion, and an act of cultural imperialism.”

Mohammed further stated that as leaders, they find merit in the position of the Muslim youths.

According to him, they sincerely believe that it is unwise and wrong for non-residents of a community to forcefully impose imported ideas or practices on their hosts.

This, they assert, goes against natural justice and will inevitably result in the breakdown of law and order.

The council clarified that they do not oppose the celebration of the Isese festival but emphasized that the city of Ilorin has moved on from its past cultural affiliations and embraced an Islamic culture.

“While the Emirate might be a Yoruba-speaking city, it must be understood that its current culture is no longer that of Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani, Nupe, or any other, but purely an Islamic culture. Therefore, we advise that they allow peace to prevail across Nigeria.”

Meanwhile, efforts to obtain a response from Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq on the ongoing controversy through his Chief Press Secretary, Rafiu Ajakaye, were unsuccessful.

He did not answer calls to his phone or a WhatsApp message.

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