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Masqueraders attack Muslims for disturbing festival

Kamarudeen Ogundele, Ado Ekiti

There was violence in Ikun Ekiti, in the Moba Local Government Area, on Tuesday as masqueraders attacked Muslims in the Central Mosque for allegedly disturbing the Egungun festival.

The incident took place at sunset around 7pm when the Muslims had gathered in the mosque to observe the Maghrib prayer after breaking their fast.

It was learnt that the masqueraders were irked that the Muslims called for prayers when they were still celebrating Egungun (masquerader) festival.

The masquearders reportedly attacked the worshippers and inflicted injuries on many of them.

About five of the worshippers were said to have sustained varying degrees of injury.

The hoodlums were said to have vandalised the two cars parked at the entrance of the mosque.

The Acting Imam of the mosque, Alhaji Abdul-Rasak Abubakar-Bello, was rushed to the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, Ado Ekiti, where he received stitches on his head.

Speaking from his hospital bed with our correspondent, Bello said the Muslims were held hostage in the mosque for four hours by the masqueraders.

“There was no way we could escape because they were waiting for us outside after initially attacking us inside the mosque. When we succeeded in locking ourselves inside the mosque, they started throwing stones at us,” he said.

Bello accused the Divisional Police Office in the area of snubbing the distress calls made to him by the Muslim community as he refused to send his men there.

The Muslim community accused the traditional ruler of the town, Oba Olatunde Olusola, of supervising the attack.

The National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations, in a statement jointly signed by the state Coordinator, Tajudeen Ahmed, and the Secretary, Musa Tijani, accused the king and the police of complicity in the attack on the Muslims.

 The NACOMYO statement read in part, “HRH David Olatunde Olusola, was said to have written a letter to the Muslim Community of Ikun Ekiti to ensure that their women stayed indoors.

“The Muslim Community of Ikun Ekiti ensured total compliance by keeping all their female members indoors.

“While the innocent and fasting Muslims were being tormented, some of them made frantic efforts to reach out to the police authorities at Ikun to come to their rescue, but the DPO ignored them.

“On our part, we condemn the invasion of the Ikun Ekiti Central Mosque by the masqueraders. We see the invasion as an abominable act that is most sacrilegious. It is a clear cut defilement of the sacred mosque and an unnecessary provocation of the Muslim faithful.”

Reacting, the Onikun, Oba Olatunde Olusola, said he had written a May 26 letter to the Muslim community in Ikun, where he appealed for cooperation to avoid any trouble.

He said, “There has always been crisis between them because the shrine is very close to the mosque; that is why we took the step of informing the various bodies to avoid trouble.”

He added that the Muslim community had met with the traditional council and they had agreed that there would not be noise during the time of the procession.

“I gave them another option of using the other mosques in the town instead of the one close to the shrine, all in a bid to avert trouble.”

“In the full glare of everybody, when the Egungun (masqueraders) procession was coming at about 6.35pm or 6.40pm, the call for prayers began and it was a surprise to everybody.

“I sent my chiefs to intervene immediately, or the matter would have escalated and it would have been a very bad situation. If they had done their prayers quietly, there wouldn’t have been any crisis.”

The Public Relations Officer of the Ekiti State Police Command, Mr. Alberto Adeyemi, said the clash between the masqueraders and the Muslims had been brought under control and normalcy had been restored to the community.

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