By Ajape Sefiu A.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has issued a warning to the Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Afolabi Ghandi Olaoye, not to set Ogbomoso on fire.

This came following the query issued by the king to the Chief Imam of Ogbomoso, Sheikh Dr. Taliat Yunus Olusina Ayilara, for failing to notify him before embarking on his recent Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

MURIC, in a statement issued on Friday, 28th June, 2024 by its Founder and Executive Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, argued that the king commanding the Chief Imam ‘to immediately return to Ogbomoso’ from faraway Saudi Arabia is ludicrous, odorous and odoriferous.

According to MURIC, Oba Ghandi, a human being, commanded the Chief Imam to abandon the worship of Allah in order to come and pay homage to him in his palace, adding that it is preposterous, sacrilegious and unacceptable.

The full statement reads, “The Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Afolabi Ghandi Olaoye, has issued a query to the Chief Imam of Ogbomoso, Sheikh Dr. Taliat Yunus Olusina Ayilara, for failing to notify him before embarking on his recent Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia (https://dailytrust.com/soun-of-ogbomoso-queries-chief-imam-for-embarking-on-hajj-without-his-consent/).

“The concluding paragraph of the query dated 10th June, 2024 and captioned ‘Query on Breach of Oath of Office and Undertakings’ reads inter alia: ‘As the son of Ogbomosoland, I hereby demand that you immediately return to Ogbomoso and rectify these violations and desist from any further actions that violate the undertakings you signed on the approval of your appointment as Chief Imam Agba of Ogbomosoland’. The query was signed by Toyin Ajamu, the Palace Secretary, on behalf of Oba Ghandi Olatoye Orumogege III.

“MURIC strongly condemns this query. It is not only in bad taste but also in bad faith. It portrays Oba Ghandi as a human king who wants to be worshipped before we can be allowed to worship the Supreme Creator, Allah.

“The Soun of Ogbomoso wants the Chief Imam to take permission before going on pilgrimage to Makkah. This is akin to asking the Chief Imam to come to the palace every morning to take permission before going for salat (prayer) because Muslims go to Makkah to worship Allah and they also observe Salat for the same purpose.

“This is a clear infringement on Allah-given fundamental human rights of the Chief Imam and a violation of Section 38(i)&(ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which guarantees freedom of worship. It should be noted that Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam and it is enshrined in the divine scripture of Islam, the Glorious Qur’an (22:27).

“The most annoying part of the query is where the king commanded the Chief Imam ‘to immediately return to Ogbomoso’ from faraway Saudi Arabia. It is ludicrous, odorous and odoriferous. This implies very clearly that Oba Ghandi, a human being, commanded the Chief Imam to abandon the worship of Allah in order to come and pay homage to him in his palace. It is preposterous, sacrilegious and therefore unacceptable.

“It is very strange that the Chief Imam was made to sign an undertaking before his installation. We are deeply disturbed by this because we have no doubt that it came up as a result of lack of mutual understanding. The undertaking was signed as far back as 2021 before Ghandi became king. He is now leveraging on it. MURIC is interested in this particular document.

“Nobody is saying the Imam should disrespect the king but at the same time it should be reciprocal. The post of Chief Imam is an exalted office and Nigerian Muslims will not take kindly to its desecration. By issuing this query to our Chief Imam, the Soun of Ogbomoso has dragged our Chief Imam in the mud and shown complete disregard for his office and faith. Oba Ghandi Olaoye has declared hostilities on the religion of Islam and the Muslims themselves.

“MURIC objects to the idea of Imams or Chief Imams signing undertakings before any king during oath of office. We reiterate our position on this issue in earlier publications that Obas have no role to play in the appointment of Imams or Chief Imams. We therefore remind Muslims in Yorubaland to stop subjecting themselves and the Imam to the Obas. It is repugnant, despicable and condescending.

“In like manner, we warn traditional rulers, particularly those of Yoruba extraction, to leave our Imams alone. Any attempt by the king to pocket or intimidate the Imam will attract the anger of his followers.

“Yet that does not mean that we are saying Muslims should disobey their traditional rulers. It only means that there are lines of demarcation here and there. The power and influence of the king is in the secular, the Imam’s power is in the spiritual. Neither should seek to cross the red line. No king should try with the Imam what he dares not attempt with the bishop.

“MURIC wishes to seize this opportunity to seek the understanding of traditional rulers throughout the country. The fact that we try to curtail the power and influence of monarchs on our Imams does not mean we hate the kings or that we do not wish them well. The reverse is the case.

“We hold the aristocracy in high esteem. They are the symbols of our customs, values, norms and mores. They remind us of our past and that past is important because people who forget their past cannot know how to make progress. The same MURIC that is asking monarchs to leave the Imams alone is the same organization that is canvassing for the independence of kings from deposition by state governors. This is our character. We promote freedom for all. We fight oppression and injustice.

“We are compelled to lay emphasis on the fact that Oba Ghandi is provoking Nigerian Muslims. We demand the withdrawal of this serpentine query unless he can show the world letters of permission written by church General Overseers (G.Os), bishops and pastors in Ogbomosoland. He must show the world applications submitted to past Souns by church leaders who wanted to travel to Jerusalem and other countries as well as those submitted to him since ascending the throne.

“In the same vein, we assure Ghandi that the document he is brandishing all over the place is mere trash. That undertaking will remain invalid until he can show the world similar undertakings signed for his predecessors on the throne by the bishops and pastors of Ogbomoso.

“Apart from that, the undertaking merely stops the Chief Imam from ‘officiating’ outside Ogbomoso and not from ‘going on hajj to worship’. These are two different things. The undertaking did not say the Chief Imam should take permission from the Soun before worshipping Allah or before going for hajj to worship Him.

“Ghandi may want his Solicitor General to take a second look at the document. If Ghandi knows how to gag Imams with frivolous undertakings, there are Muslims who know how to decipher the codes.

“It is articulated assault on Allah-given fundamental human rights of the Chief Imam to make him sign such a luciferous undertaking while the bishops and pastors of Ogbomoso are exempted. It is discriminatory. It is profiling and stereotyping. Besides, it is highly unfair on Ogbomoso Muslims to keep their Chief Imam and leader in chains while the bishop of Ogbomoso roams freely around the globe like the free wind.

“We charge Oba Ghandi, a former pastor of the Redeemed Church, to stop taking Muslims for granted. He has a blurred image of Muslims as a bunch of timid, uneducated and easily intimidated subjects who do not know their fundamental human rights. That is exactly how he sees Muslims. But the tide has changed.

“The Muslims of today are enlightened, informed and unputdownable. Only fake Muslims are found among boot-lickers and palace-jesters. Although today’s Muslims will still respect the king, they will draw a line between respect for the king and their rights as free-born Muslims.

“Inasmuch as Soun will not expect applications to travel out to Jerusalem from bishops and pastors, he should not demand same from our Chief Imam Agba. This query from Soun has caused the Muslim Community throughout Nigeria excruciating pain and created a wider gulf between Muslims and Christians. We can no longer trust the Soun. He is not acting like the king of Muslims, Christians and traditionalists. We now see the Soun in the Redeemed Church cassock and vestment, a ‘fisher of men’!

“By the way, which law of Oyo State or of Nigeria as a whole empowers the Soun to give permission to the Chief Imam before he can go on Hajj? Which law makes the Chief Imam submissive to the Soun? Without such laws, Ghandi’s query is ultra vires, null, void and of no consequences under the law.

“Soun is behaving as if Ogbomoso Muslims are under the Redeemed Church. As a former pastor of the Redeemed Church, he should know that he is not in the best position to escape suspicion from Muslims. That is why he is expected to be more careful. Again, the Chief Imam is not a traditional title holder at all. Neither is he one of the palace floor sweepers. So where is this query coming from? This query lacks wisdom, tact and caution. Soun should not set Ogbomoso on fire.”