An illegal round-the-clock curfew has been imposed on Idiroko, Agosasa, Ilase, Ajegunle and some other communities in Ipokia Local Government of Ogun State since Tuesday, September 3, 2019 by Oro cultists. The curfew has paralysed commercial activities in the whole area as shops and markets are under lock and key. Women and strangers are not allowed to move about and schools are already affected., a statement by Prof. Ishaq Akintola, director, Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC has said.
According to Akintola, the Oro worshippers who signed an agreement with Christians and Muslims at a religious stakeholders’ meeting held at the Conference Room of Ipokia Local Government Secretariat on 21st August 2019 have reneged on their promise barely one week later.
He continued, “The meeting was presided over by the Head of Local Government Administration (HOLGA) in Ipokia, Engr Babatunde Odunlami. Representatives of Christians and Muslims were in attendance. Security agents were also there. They all signed an agreement restricting the celebration of Oro festival to midnight from 12 am to 4 am. The signed document also indicated that there should be no restriction of any form to non-members of Oro cult within the period.”
MURIC provided more insight into the agreement.
“It was agreed that Christians and Muslims must conduct their services inside churches and mosques respectively. Outside procession with loudspeakers are also forbidden during Oro festivals while no religious group should, in their preaching or songs, call traditional worshippers derogatory names and no one should infringe on the fundamental human rights of citizens as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution. In addition, any religious group that intends to organise a festival must inform the local government, police and other security agencies in writing beforehand.
“The agreement was signed on behalf of Muslims by the Imam of Idi Iroko, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris and two others: Faruq Tiamiyu and Yahya Ajibola. Christians were represented by Joseph Arogunyo, John Jayeola and Adesina Sunday while Ojo Alade, Gafar Waidi and Suuru Adeyemi signed on behalf of Oro worshippers.
“The DPO of Idiroko police station, CSP Opebiyi Sunday signed as a witness while the DPO of Ipokia was represented by CSP Oluku Sunday. Also, the Department of State Services (DSS) was represented by B. E. Bassey, while the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) was represented by DRC Garba Dare.
MURIC lamented the failure of leaders of Oro cult to abide by the agreement. “It is highly regrettable that these people failed to abide by the agreement they signed under the full glare of security agents. We are grossly disappointed.”
The group called on security agents to arrest Oro cult leaders and prosecute them.
“We call on the security agents to do the needful. Oro cult leaders must be arrested, detained and prosecuted for declaring this curfew. They have usurped the powers of the state governor and the chairman of the local government who are the only authorities conferred with the power to impose curfews. Their action is illegal, illegitimate, unlawful and unconstitutional.
“Besides, the illegal declaration of curfew on the area is an indubitable contravention of Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which says inter alia, ‘Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria…’
“Security agents have a duty to uphold the rule of law. The action of Oro cultists is capable of causing a breech of the peace because they have infringed upon the freedom of movement of Ipokia citizens. Oro cult leaders must therefore be held accountable. It is also important to note that this curfew was declared in contempt of court because there is a subsisting court ruling on this by an Ipokia High Court made earlier this year.
“As we wind up, we charge the Ogun State Police Command and the Ogun State chapter of the Department of State Security Services (DSS) to spring to action. Nigerians will hold security agents responsible if there is any breakdown of law and order in Ogun State over the illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional declaration of curfew by Oro cultists. Security agents must summon the will to nip this threat to peace in the bud. Oro cultists must no longer be allowed to arrogate executive power to themselves anywhere in the South West. Enough is enough.