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Is Religion War?



Almost every corner of Nigeria has been pelted with religious missiles that have further nourished the disunity amongst Nigerians. Ages ago, religious violence in Nigeria was carried out by ostracised groups who faced condemnation from all and sundry. Sadly, in recent times, religious violence is instituted by the everyday Nigerian against their neighbours, co-workers, customers, family members and even co-worshippers.
In Christianity, for example, some sects regard themselves as better Christians than others, while in Islam, a certain group thinks that others are not qualified to be referred to as Muslims. Christians and Muslims, who should naturally practice peace as preached by those recognised as their leaders – Jesus and Prophet Mohammed – have made a caricature of their faiths in Nigeria.
Not limiting it to Abrahamic religions only, some adherents of the African Traditional Religion have also portrayed themselves in a negative light as they have, at several times, been in the news for negative actions.
In April 2023, Muslims in Ile-Ife, Osun State, protested against traditional worshippers attacking some Muslims in a mosque during an Oro festival which was carried out in broad daylight. The aggrieved Muslims blocked major roads in the town to express their displeasure over the attack on their members, which left four people critically injured and hospitalised.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi waded into the fight and appealed to Muslims to be patient for him to resolve the matter amicably, promising to be responsible for the hospital bills of the victims as well as repairing the vandalised mosque.
In August 2022, the Pastor of Truth and Spirit Prophetic Church, at Sanni Taiwo Lawal Street, Poposhola area of Oko-Oba, Agege in Lagos and nine of her members were arrested by the police for stoning an Oro traditional worshipper to death. The Oro worshipper was said to have entered the church to ask the members to stop the service during a vigil and prophetic hour. This led the pastor and his members to unlawfully stone him to death.
Also, recently, a Muslim group, Majlisu Shabab li Ulamahu Society, in Ilorin, Kwara State stormed the residence of a traditional religion priestess to impose a ban on any form of Isese festival in Ilorin West, Ilorin East, Ilorin South, and Asa local governments in the state.
According to the group, the warning is coming from the Emir of Ilorin, Dr. Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari
Isese, the Yoruba word for tradition, is used to denote different kinds of festivals held by adherents of the Yoruba traditional religion in Nigeria and Cuba, Brazil, the United States, Benin, and other countries.
The priestess, who is an Osun devotee, Yeye Adesikemi Olokun Omolara Olatunji, had reportedly released fliers announcing a three-day traditional event aimed at celebrating certain Yoruba deities.
Although the Muslim group stressed that the visit and their intentions were peaceful, the Imams, while making subtle threats, warned Olatunji of the potentially dire consequences of holding the festival, while stressing that the state only supports Islamic activities.
The three major religions have been at loggerheads in recent times, which has largely contributed to the disunity in the country. The division has further affected almost all sectors of the country, most especially, the political decisions of most Nigerians.
This menace, if not curbed, will consume the nation. Religious violence is a real challenge in Nigeria, and it has a likely chance to become an uncontrollable monster if not quickly tamed.
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