Press Release Issued by the President of ICIR, On The Cancellation of Isese Festival, Vows To Challenge NPF in Court
Distinguished Members of the International Council for Ifá/Òrìṣà Religions, Leaders and Members of Various Isese organizations, groups and cultural public, gentlemen of the press, ladies and gentlemen.
Yesterday, August 14, 2023, our representatives attended a meeting with the Kwara State Police Commissioner in Ilorin after having been invited in respect of our Letter of Notification on the proposed celebration of the Isese Day slated to hold in Ilorin on the 20th August, 2023.
The outcome of the meeting was the prohibition of the hosting of the festival purportedly as a result of what they called rising tension in the state. ICIR is not unaware that the police authorities have the power to enforce laws and regulations, maintain public order, and ensure the safety and security of the community. They can also, under certain circumstances, impose restrictions or place a ban on specific events or activities if they deem it necessary for public safety, law enforcement, or other legitimate reasons.
Nevertheless, the ban placed on our Isese Festival has been viewed from legal perspective as an abuse of fundamental rights of all traditionalists in Kwara State. It has also been seen as a testimony to the fact that the police authorities were already prejudiced against our faith. The ban is the first to be imposed on any lawful religious gathering in the entire history of Kwara State to the advantage of the antagonists of such event.
Although we are not unaware of the clandestine moves, efforts and preparation by some disgruntled elements within the islamic faith to unleash unwarranted attacks on some of our members in Kwara State before, during and after the August 20 proposed events. We had wanted to go ahead in the hope that the Security Agencies would do their best to put a check on the unbridled lust of the bellicose islamists for war thereby enabling us to exercise our fundamental rights as an organization. It is therefore shocking to realize that those whose role it is to enforce law, ensure peace and maintain orderliness indirectly declared that they have neither the capacity nor the political will power to so do and would rather deny us our rights to please those they are expected to caution.
As an organization that respects the sanctity of human life and holds high our belief in Olodumare as the giver of life, ICIR will never wish evil for anyone regardless of their faith or creed. We, the traditionalists, being the original owners of the land, would never allow a descent into bloodletting or be provoked to dance to a drumbeat of war by any other religion. As a true religion of peace, we have never and will never engage anyone in a religious war let alone shedding human blood for the sake religion. We are aware of the fact that their overzealousness not withstanding, majority of these foreign religious fanatics are fellow Yoruba people. If we allow any confrontation to take place and we hurt any of them, we have hurt ourselves because they are our brothers. On the other hand, if they hurt any of us, we have hurt ourselves because a brother has inflicted injury on a fellow brother. We will follow the directive of Olodumare and Ifa which says that on no condition must will allow the cloud of confrontation to descend into rainfall of confrontation. We will continue to, in this wise, pray to Olodumare to turn their heart of stone into heart of flesh and blood
In the light of the above, ICIR has taken a decision that it feels critical to the current situation. We have resolved to put the planned festival on hold till a more propitious time in future.
In the light of this, on behalf of ICIR, I plead with our members, particularly those in Kwara State, all ‘Isese’ groups, inclusive of members of our Youth Wing, to take the cancellation with equanimity.
It is a sacrifice that is necessary in order to save those who threaten violence from their own folly and ignorance. All traditionalists should avoid religious conflicts or confrontations at all costs. We must rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of peace, stability and development of our society while serving Eledumare through our unrelenting obedience to His will as well as committed service to humanity. You are all urged to note that ICIR will not fail to seek justice wherever necessary.
Though we have resolved not to drag other religious groups to court, we will be challenging the Nigerian Police Force for the discriminatory breach of our Rights to hold lawful gatherings even when both our Christians and Muslim brothers hold their mass gathering unhindered. We will also be seeking legal interpretation of the context of Nigeria’s secularity as enshrined in the Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution (as amended). While thanking everyone for the steadfastness so far, we once again appeal for calm and obedience to the law of the land.
Thank you. Aboru Aboye, Ogbó a tó o! Oluwo Solagbade Popoola (ficssmn)