By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
Few weeks after the Oro cult group invaded a mosque in Idi-Iroko, Ogun State, another mosque, the Zumratul Mu’miniin Mosque in Amororo area of Iperu, Ikenne Local Government Area of Ogun State, has again been attacked by another cult group popularly known as Eluku.
The mosque had its properties damaged. Vehicles and houses around the mosque also came under attack.
The latest attack occurred on Tuesday, 22nd October, 2019 around 8.30 pm. At least three Muslims were hospitalized due to serious injuries inflicted on them by the attackers. Other worshippers in the Zumratul Mu’miniin Mosque who sustained various degrees of injury were discharged after receiving treatment.
The Eluku cult members also poured boiling vegetable oil on three members of the mosque who had gone to report the incident at the Iperu police headquarters. Two of them, Nurein and Abdul Razaq, are currently receiving treatment at the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH).
Meanwhile, an Islamic civil society group, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has denounced the attack. The group spoke through its Founder and Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, who circulated a press statement on the incident on Monday, 28thOctober, 2019.
“We strongly denounce this unprovoked attack. It was premeditated, gruesome and vicious. It is an infringement on freedom of worship as enshrined in Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This is one attack too many. There had been two separate attacks on mosques and Muslims in Ogun State this year 2019 alone. What have we done to deserve this incessant molestation?
“Traditional worshippers of Olosha Oba and Oro Cult invaded Umar Bin Khattab Mosque in Idi-Iroko in the Ipokia Local Government Area of Ogun State on Saturday, 27th July, 2019 during the afternoon Zuhr prayer. Several Muslims were injured.
“Masquerade worshippers publicly removed the hijab from a Muslim woman’s head and beat her up in Abeokuta on 18th June, 2019.
“This is the third attack on Muslims in Ogun State alone in 2019. Once is happenstance, twice is a coincidence, the third time is enemy action. If we call Idi Iroko mosque a mere happenstance, the beating up of a woman in hijab in Abeokuta township a coincidence, the latest mosque invasion at Iperu has no other name. It is enemy action.
“We are therefore constrained to ask the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, to explain to the whole world why Muslims are constantly exposed to danger under his watch. Dapo Abiodun became the executive governor of Ogun State on 29th May, 2019. Since then, our mosques have been invaded twice and a Muslim woman was assaulted.
As the chief security officer in the state, the governor has not deemed it fit to issue a public statement on any of these attacks. Has the state government ever warned traditional worshippers over these attacks? Are we to assume that there is tacit approval?
“Who gave the green light and the licence to invade mosques and assault Muslims? Who asked the police to look the other way? Why should Muslim tax payers and law abiding citizens be subjected to intimidation? Ogun State Muslims voted for Governor Abiodun but they are not enjoying dividends of democracy. Otherwise why are they not being protected? Why are their attackers walking free on the streets?
“MURIC has more cassu belli to hold Governor Abiodun responsible for the latest attack. It occurred in Iperu. Incidentally Iperu is the governor’s hometown. His kinsmen have now been emboldened to do whatever they like with Muslims. We find it difficult to believe that the governor has not been briefed seven days after the incident.
“Governor Abiodun has not deemed it fit to visit the scene of the attack. He does not think it is necessary to sympathise with the victims. No single government official has gone to sympathise with the injured victims in the hospital. This is unacceptable. We are deeply hurt. The Muslim community of Ogun State deserves some modicum of respect.
“Dapo Abiodun must fish out the culprits. The governor does not need to go far. Investigations conducted by the Iperu Zone of MURIC have revealed the identity of leaders of the Eluku cult in Iperu. Osako, Aluko and Young Owner are the key suspects. They are well known in the governor’s community.
“Looked at from another angle, we find it curious that Oro worshippers and Eluku cultists have never attacked any church in Ogun State. Their targets are always our mosques. Why is this so? We are therefore compelled to demand action from Imams, Muslim leaders and holders of Islamic titles in the state. They need to engage Muslims in robust sensitization and involve other groups in interfaith dialogue.
“We call the attention of chroniclers to what is happening to Muslims in Ogun State in particular and in the South West in general. Muslims are being chased from pillar to post. We are deprived of our civil rights. We cannot enjoy Allah-given fundamental human rights without first going to court.
“Our daughters are being locked out of school on account of ordinary headscarf (hijab). Our mosques are being invaded. Boiling vegetable oil is poured on innocent Muslims. It is persecution galore. Yet orientalists and jaundiced reporters still see nothing but violent Muslims. These atrocities are being documented today and the statements of MURIC will bear eloquent testimony against our traducers in the near future. Afterall today was born from the wombs of yesterday.
“Of equal significance is the wrong impression held by many that the South West is the home of religious tolerance in the whole country. We make bold to say that this is far from the truth. The reality on ground is that the South West is seen as the most tolerant zone because the Muslims in the sub-region have always persevered. They have always kept quiet in the face of daily provocation.
“Was it not in the South West that Christians instructed their children to go to school in masquerade garbs and church choir garments simply because a competent court of law granted Muslims right to use hijab? That was an attempt to rubbish the rule of law and it failed. At present, Muslims in the South West have been forced to institute court cases in Ibadan, Abeokuta, Lagos, etc over denial of civil rights.
“Traditionalists are always attacking Muslims in Ikorodu, Iperu, Idi Iroko, etc but Muslims have not hit back even once. The South West is therefore as volatile as other regions in Nigeria. The only difference is that Muslims in the sub-region are the ones bearing the brunt and sustaining the peace. But for how long?
“Our people say everyone can see the fly as it perches on the wounds of an innocent man now but nobody is saying anything. But there will be uproar when the innocent man decides to eat the fly.
“MURIC demands immediate arrest and prosecution of leaders of the Eluku cult in Iperu. We charge the police to protect mosques in Ogun State in particular and the South West in general. We invite Governor Dapo Abiodun to proactive governance particularly concerning affairs of Muslims in the state. Nigerians are waiting to see if the governor will do justice in the Iperu Mosque affair whose culprits are his kinsmen. Imams, Muslim leaders and Islamic title holders need to sit up. Enough is enough.”