Yorùbá Ronu! Isẹse Day, Arrest of Tani Olohun and Violation of fundamental human rights
By Dr. Bukola Adeniji, For Think Yorùbá First.
August 20th 2023 marks the first Isẹse Day in a few South Western Nigeria States. The irony of the holiday creation in 2023 after several years of recognizing other religious holidays in Nigeria implies improvement in the nation’s consciousness and attempts at ensuring equality of faith in the nation, and perhaps it’s a start in the journey to true federalism in our great country Nigeria.
As we commend the South West government initiative in recognition of Isese Day, we must not take our eyes off the ongoing tension in Kwara State Nigeria where extremist religious fundamentalists of the Islamic extraction has been trampling on individuals right to freedom of religion as guaranteed under Nigeria 1999 constitution Chapter 4 subsection 38 – “1).
Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.”
The intentional confrontations of some Islamist sects in Ilorin, Kwara State to interrupt the planned Ọṣun festival in Ilorin, and interruptions of the religious procession of some Onisese at a River bank in Oko Olowo expressway in Ilorin under the guise of instructions from Emir of Ilorin Sulu Gambari as it occurred in July 2023 exposes the Nigeria legal system to scrutiny and raises the question of the legitimacy of the law of the land and the role of the State government, the law enforcement agencies and the traditional rulers in abrogating the powers of the federal code. In addition, the failure of the police authorities to uphold the federal law by refusing to guarantee safety of Isese practitioners who had planned to celebrate Isese day in Ilorin on August 20th, 2023 further belittled the Nigeria 1999 constitution as currently constituted.
There has not been an official statement from the Kwara State Government on the issue of religious confrontation ongoing in the state capital. The Ilorin police not only allowed terroristic innuendoes to violate the rights to practice of others, the police also undermined their own authority in the state. All these events are creating a stage for more confrontations among religious sects in the country and a recipe for anarchy if care is not taken.
We also noted the arrest of an Onisese activist nick named Tani Olohun on August 18th, 2023, the use of the state government resources to prosecute an obviously biased case calls into question the the legitimacy of the Ilorin police interventions in the variety of cases that has rocked practitioners of Traditional faith (onisese) religion lately.
We are using this medium to call on well meaning Nigerians, well meaning Yorùbá to rise up against religious persecution in the country. We have witnessed the senseless burning to death of a Young woman named Deborah in a supposedly secular country like Nigeria and till today there has been no prosecution for the gruesome murder of the innocent young woman. We are now witnessing citizens backed by traditional rulers drawing boundaries for other citizens in a presumably secular nation, and we are witnessing the law enforcement of the land enforcing the red lines of citizen provocateurs.
We urge every Nigerians to rise up on this issue irrespective of their religious predisposition because an injustice to one is an injustice to all. Think Yoruba First is a secular organization that is committed to protecting the fundamental rights of every Yorùbá within the Nigeria space and in the world, our organization is a socio cultural and conservative organization that supports other ethnic groups within Nigeria in their fight against injustice as we are all bounded by our common humanity.
We maintain that Yorùbá around the world must prioritize our Yorùbá identity as a common bond, and not allow any religious or other ideological commitments to create a rift in our common heritage and lead us to proxy war against each other.