Olojo Festival:Ooni Commences 7-Day Seclusion

Mohammed Shosanya

The Ooni of Ife, Arole Oodua Olofin Adimula, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja ll, on Sunday kick started this year’s annual Olojo Festival celebrations by embarking on a 7-day spiritual seclusion.

While in isolation,the foremost monarch will seek the face of Almighty God(Olodumare) and ancestors of the land for the recovery of Nigeria’s economy and unity of the African people for prosperity.

He spoke to the press before being escorted on a procession to the ‘ILE MOLE’ ancient cult chamber located on Iremo road in Ile-Ife .

He lauded President Bola Tinubu over his sterling Pan-African speech recently during 78th UN General Assembly in the USA quoting him as saying “To the rest of the world, I say walk with us as true friends and partners. Africa is not a problem to be avoided nor is it to be pitied. Africa is nothing less than the key to the world’s future.”

He advocated the need for Africans worldwide to unite and be peaceful for the development and desired economic liberation. He urged relevant stakeholders in Africa to prioritize the unity of the African continent, saying pan Africanism is non-negotiable.

“President Bola Tinubu spoke very creditably well as a true Pan-African leader during the 78 edition of the UN General Assembly. I also respect Presidents Yoweri Museveni and William Ruto of Uganda and Kenya respectively for always consistently standing for Africa. I have met with them and we have always discussed Africa development.

“For the past 8 years that I been on the throne of Oduduwa, anytime I go into seclusion, there is nothing I ask the ancestors that doesn’t come into fulfillment. Therefore, I can rest assured that this time around, the actualization of Pan-Africanism will come to reality. “Ooni said.

Ooni,who lamented the suffering and hardship in Nigeria said there is a need for the ancestors to step in so that the administration of President Tinubu, will be the renewed hope in terms of friendly economic palliatives for the poor masses, good roads, uninterrupted power supply, affordable education, employment opportunities, and above all, actualization of the ideological oneness that all sundry in Africa have been hoping for.

He implored government at all levels to be more sensitive to the plight of the people, also urging all and sundry to support the president so as to move the nation forward for stable national security and economic advancement.

“I will pray for the unity of Africa. Things are very hard. We all know the economic challenges that people are facing.

“The issue of restiveness of our youths would not go beyond control, before this are sensitive issues that we need to address before it goes out of hand.

“My prayer also would be to pray for divine intervention for the government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in order to turn things right because expectations of people are so high”, Ooni stated

Ooni,who doubles as Co-chairman, National Council Of Traditional Rulers Of Nigeria (NCTRN) praised President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil for his love for Africa saying the large turnout of the Afro-Brasilians and other diaspora Africans is an attestation that Olojo festival.is indeed a rallying point for connecting the Africans together.

Ghandi Olaoye Emerges As New Soun Of Ogbomoso

Mohammed Shosanya

Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde has approved the appointment of Prince Afolabi Ghandi Olaoye as the new Soun-elect of Ogbomosoland.

Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Matters, Hon. Olusegun Olayiwola said in a statement on Saturday that the announcement followed the long-drawn processes specified under the law.

“His Excellency congratulates the new Soun-elect on his ascension to the throne of his forebears,” the statement said.

He said the position has placed the monarch-elect in the position to facilitate harmony, understanding and tolerance amongst his people.

He urged all sons and daughters of the ancient city of Ogbomoso to work with the monarch to consolidate the successes of his forefathers.

I’m Seeking Second Term To Add More Value To Aiyepe Community-Olaseni Kasumu

Outgoing chairman of Aiyepe Community Development Committee,Mr.Olaseni Kasumu,in this interview with Premium News,shares his experience in the first tenure,why he’s seeking re-election and what the people of Aiyepe in the Odogbolu local government area of Ogun state should expect in his second term.

Your tenure as the Chairman of ACDC for ends in few hours.Could you your share with us how your tenure imparted on the development of Aiyepe community.

Since inception,my tenure has been a very interesting journey characterized by a myriad of challenges and experiences that could best be described as uphill tasks which to the glory of God were all surmounted.

We executed milestone projects such as:
Improvement in the provision of qualitative health services.

Provision of qualitative education in the community.

Distribution of free exercise books for both secondary and primary schools in Aiyepe
Erection of speed breakers at strategic places in the community.

Building of an ultra modern health center up to lintel level and completed and furnished by the federal government.

Building of pharmaceutical section/dispensary with a store and lavatory behind the health center.

-Provision of adequate security for the community.

– Clearing/Cleaning of our drinages at interval.
-Payment of two security guards for the Aiyepe comprehensive high school for seven months.

Erection of caution signs on our road to avoid accidents.

Filling of potholes on the Aiyepe/Ikenne road and Aiyepe /Odogbolu road on three occasions.

Provision of Covid-19 relief materials to the vulnerable ones.

Facilitation of the sinking of borehole at ilubirin quarters.

Facilitation of the light up Aiyepe project.

Repairs of all non functional boreholes within the Aiyepe Community with the assistance of Aiyepe Society United Kingdom/Ireland .

Facilitation of the reinstatement of the Gateway Polytechnic, Aiyepe campus
Creation of forty CDA’s in the community from the ACDA to ACDC

We played our part by supporting the Aiyepe think tank group in the building of the ongoing Aiyepe town hall project.To mention but a few.

I would say we have come a very long way in carrying along the entire community and assuring sons and daughters of Aiyepe of our constant dedication to duty and relentless service all geared towards the building of a better Aiyepe community

Tell us the challenges you experienced and how you surmounted them.

There are numerous challenges experienced by my administration, but I was able to overcome them on account of my rare passion for the community and open door policy as a leader.

At times, I simply have objective heart to engage in discussion with any dissenting elements within or outside my cabinet which will surely convince them to see things from an objective angle

What mechanisms did you put in place to measure the impact of your tenure as the Chairman of ACDC ?

In my opinion,I attribute my leadership qualities to the Almighty Allah, who gave me this rare priviledge and the ability to further harness my talents to inspire my team, and our community as a whole.

It’s been through hard work and prayers that we achieved all what we did so far

What will you do differently from your first tenure if you are re-elected?

We will look for people of like minds,who truly believe in the community and will jointly bring in investors to invest in infrastructure particularly in the area of Energy which has multifaceted ways of impacting our well being as a people. I will redouble my effort on proactive governance so that what we do in our community will have multiplying benefits for our people

Why should you be reelected as the chairman of the ACDC after your first tenure ?

The people of Aiyepe Community can attest to our achievements and as such they know the community is progressing with the formidable team of tenacious executives.

They want to ensure continuity of the good work and a positive turn around of the development projects within the community.

Their intent to give us another opportunity to serve amounts to allowing us to come and consolidate on our achievements. My re-election will aid the growth and development of my community

Our sons and daughters are in diaspora doing Aiyepe proud.How do you hope to tap into the potentials of these Diasporians if you get the second term bid?

My relationship with those in diaspora is very cordial.They’ve been carrying out various projects in the community.I will ensure they do more by creating an enabling environment for such.

Prince Oyebola Is New Aseyin Of Iseyin

Mohammed Shosanya

Prince Olawale Semiu Oyebola has been elected the 30th Aseyin of Iseyin.

He was elected after the voting process by the 10 kingmakers on Tuesday, in Iseyin, the Oke Ogun Area of Oyo state.

The 55-year-old Aseyin-elect succeeds the late Aseyin Oba Salahudeen Abdul Ganiyy Adekunle Ajinese 1.

The late Aseyin died in 2022 after an illness at the University College Hospital, Ibadan. He spent 15 years as a king.

The new Aseyin-elect works and resides in the United States of America with his family.

Earlier, Aseyin of Iseyin palace was cordoned off by security operatives including personnel of the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Operation Amotekun.

Yoruba Group To Kwara Govt:Release Yeye Osun,Talolorun Now

Mohammed Shosanya

Yoruba Diaspora group Yoruba One Voice (YOV),has faulted the continuous detention of Osun devotees, Efunsetan Abebi, Obalowu Jimoh and popular online presenter Talolrun.

The group also urged governor AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq of Kwara state to intervene and ensure that those detained were released.

In a statement by the General
Secretary,Prince Adedokun Ademiluyi,the Yoruba diaspora organization,described the arrest and prolonged detention of the trio as travesty of justice and an act of intimidation that could lead to further crisis.

It insisted that the Kwara state Commissioner for police, Ebun Adelesi, was acting the script well written by some prominent figures in Ilorin,adding that there are strong indications that some people are behind the arrest and unlawful detention of the devotees, even as it was obvious that the Kwara state Commissioner for police allegedly doing everything that is possible to frustrate their release.

It added that the circumstances surrounding the recent arrest and arraignment of Tantolorun showed that the Kwara state police authority have the backings of some religious leaders to trample upon the rights of the detained devotees.

“We are appealing to governor
AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq to intervene and ensure that those detained in respect of the Ilorin religious crisis were released.It is unfortunate that a magistrate court in Ilorin will order the remand of Yeye Osun Abebi,Obalowu Jimoh and Tantolorun for 30 and 50 days respectively without trial.

“It is sad and even unconstitutional that Magistrate Adams would arrogate to himself such power that makes him feel like he is above the law.It is nothing but a travesty of justice to arrest a person in Ibadan, Oyo state, and went ahead to arraign him in Ilorin Magistrate Court,Kwara state without anybody raising a voice.

“Tantolorun was alleged to have committed offences ranging from defamation of character and causing public disturbance.All the offences have their punishments under the law.However, the viral video of his arrest showed how the young man was portrayed as addicted criminal.

“And you wondered how Nigeria has lost everything to injustice and lack of fair play.The Kwara state Commissioner for Police was biased in her disposition and the way she handled the case.

“There were times when these religion fanatics denigrate the traditional institution,calling the late Alaafin uncomplimentary names. When bigots invaded Ooni’s palace in Ile Ife, pelting the palace with stones,the revered monarch never go to court.

“Professor Wole Soyinka,the Aareonakakanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Abiodun Ige Adams and a few others had also been called several uncomplimentary names by these unknown religious bigots and bloggers, yet they didn’t sue or take legal actions against them.

“But the case of Talolorun had showed the intolerance of some people and this can only lead to more crisis.So we are appealing to the Kwara state governor to intervene and ensure that those detained are released for them to enjoy their rights to freedom.

“In spite of the huge security issues and challenges in Kwara state,it is
ridiculous watching the Kwara state Commissioner for police leading her men to the river at the outskirts of Ilorin to observe surveillance and also prevent Osun devotees from appeasing the river goddess.

“In June this year,over 100 people died in Kwara state when a vessel capsized and split in two in the Niger River near Pategi, Kwara State, Nigeria. The sad incident occured when a boat carrying attendees of a wedding capsized and 108 people were confirmed dead in the boat mishap.

“These unfortunate incidents happened when nature is fighting back and when incidents like these occured,we need to appease nature and God the creator of heaven and earth is not against any religion,it is only the religious bigots and fanatics that use religion to foment

YOV also implored prominent Yoruba sons and daughters to support the call for the release of the three people detained in respect of the religious crisis in Ilorin,even as it warned those behind the crisis in Ilorin to stay away from actions that can stoke religious crisis in Yoruba land.

It added:”Nigeria is a secular nation.It is very unfortunate that some people could be so mean to use religion to create avoidable crisis in Ilorin.There is need for every Nigerian to respect the secularity of the Nigerian nation, saying the Nigerian Constitution allows the citizens to practise religion of their choices without fear or threat”

Ifa Devotees Seek Release Of Talolorun

The international Council For Ifa Religion,has condemned the illegal arrest and remand of a popular Isese devotee and activist Adegbola Abdulazeez, popularly known as Talolorun (Who is God),calling for his immediate release.

The group argued that Nigeria is a secular nation, which every religion should be respected and have freedom of worshipping and be tolerance with each other.

Talolorun was arrested in Ibadan, Oyo state capital on August 16 and taken to Sanyo Police Station before whisked away to Ilorin, Kwara state by the team from Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Area Command, Ilorin.

He was arraigned the following day for defamation and consequently the presiding judge ordered his remand in correctional centre for 50 days.

He was reportedly arrested for insulting the Emir of Ilorin among other offences.

The International Council For Ifa Religion,in a statement signed by Araba Agbaye, High Chief Owolabi Aworeni, condemned police action,saying the officers are bias for supporting one religion against another.

The statement said: “Taniolorun was arrested in Ibadan on August 16 and first taken to Sanyo Police station before whisked away to Police station in Ilorin. On August 17, he was charged to court for defamation and the judge ordered his remand in correctional centre for 50 days.

“If the Police is not taking side, how can they arrested someone on Wednesday evening and arraigned him on Thursday morning without even telling his family whereabout of him, they don’t allow him to lawyer before his arraignment.

“Nigeria is a secular state,every religion should be respected and have freedom of worshipping but in Ilorin and few other states, reverse is the case.

“Isese devotees are peace-loving people, we are not troublemakers,we simply wanted to celebrate our festivals but were stopped and asked to seek permission. When Muslims want to celebrate Sallah, do they need permission to do this as well? Why demanding such from Isese worshippers?

“Because Talolorun was calling for support for Isese, he was framed up that he defamed Emir, some were saying he burnt Quran, which are far from the truth.

“We are using this medium to call for his immediate release to avoid religious crisis, which is already heating up, two religions are having issue, the law enforcement agency, Police is after one, supporting the other, this is violation of human rights and freedom of worshipping.

“We are calling on stakeholders to call Police authority in Kwara to order, and facilitate the release of Talolorun before this degenerate to avoidable religious crisis”.

Land Dispute: Olubadan Suspends Mogaji

Mohammed Shosanya

The Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Sen. Lekan Balogun, CFR, Alli Okunmade II has on Friday suspended one of his Mogajis, Chief Olawale Oladoja, Mogaji Akinsola over his activities in the Akinsola Village in Akinyele Local Government area of Oyo State.

Mogaji Akinsola had Thursday,clamped down on the residents of the community claiming that he had gotten court judgments to prove that the land upon which they built their houses was not legally sold to them.

About 200 houses in the community under reference were on Wednesday put under lock and key and red- marked which he said was to prove his being in charge. The action threw the residents out of their houses, leading some of them to sleep in the open throughout the night following which they protested to the Olubadan Palace on Thursday.

The complaints and the public outcry that greeted the matter which trended on the internet led to the emergency meeting conveyed on Friday which had in attendance the Olubadan, some of the members of his Advisory Council, the representatives of Ibadan Mogajis led by Chief Asimiyu Adepoju Ariori, Mogaji Akinsola and the representatives of the residents and where the decision to suspend the Mogaji and other actions were taken.

The Personal Assistant (Media) to Olubadan, Oladele Ogunsola disclosed that three communities, Akinsola, Aponmode and Labinkulu were actually affected by the action with the other two communities as represented by Baale Aponmode, Dauda Bolarinwa Aponmode and Morufu Raufu relaying how they were recruited by Mogaji Akinsola to join him in reclaiming the land from the landlords and how they turned him down.

In his presentation, Mogaji Akinsola told the monarch and his members of Advisory Council that he made several attempts to resolve the matter before he
decided to take action.

He disclosed that the matter was also reported to the palace and moves were being made to intervene but didn’t wait for the conclusion of the palace intervention before he approached the security agents for the execution of the court judgment that gave his family the right of ownership of the disputed land.

The Ashipa Olubadan, Oba Biodun Kola-Daisi who read the riot act on behalf of the Olubadan Advisory Council said “several facts were established here today and they pointed to the fact that Mogaji Akinsola didn’t follow the code if conduct usually handed down to both Mogajis and Baales when being appointed.

“In this instance, the case was already in the Palace, but, did you inform the palace before the police was invited? Your action inconvenient, embarrassed the Olubadan stool and the Ibadanland. You crossed the line and the Council has decided that you be suspended as Mogaji, you are ordered to tender public apology to the people inconvenienced.

“You defied Olubadan, took laws into your hands by going ahead to take such drastic decision. This will serve as deterrents to others who fail to appreciate and recognize the responsibility their position as either Baale or Mogaji entails. Your suspension will last for as long as it takes to resolve the problem you have created”, Ashipa Olubadan added.

Shareholders Of Odu’a Investment Get N428m Dividend As Coy Sees Positive Outlook

Mohammed Shosanya

Shareholders of Odu’a Investment Company Limited, will receive the sum of N428million as dividend for the year 2022,its chairman,Otunba Bimbo Ashiru .

Otunba Ashiru,who spoke on Thursday at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja during the 41st Annual General Meeting of the company,expressed optimism that the company’s performance in the current year would be superlative and add more value to its shareholders.

Odu’a Investment Company Limited’s operating revenue decreased 8.5% from N4.01 billion in 2021 to N3.67 billion in 2022,he said

According to him,the company posted a profit before tax of N4.08 billion in 2022, 56.5% lower than the N9.37billion in 2021,which was driven largely by lower revaluation gains.

Total assets,he said,grew 3.6% from N110.56billion in 2021, to N114.51billion in 2022.”

He added:”Despite the socio-economic challenges we faced as a business, I’m happy to reports that the board has recommended a dividend of N428 million for your approval, this is higher than the dividend of N418 million paid in 2021, and indicative of our commitment to delivering sustainable returns”

Last December,Odu’a Investment Company Limited reached an agreement with strategic partner to remodel, renovate and upgrade the existing Premier Hotel from an 87-room hotel to a 150-room 5-star hotel,Ashiru said.

He also said the redeployment hotel will be equipped with world-class conference facilities, restaurants, recreational facilities, and ample parking.

He added:”The project is expected to be delivered in the first quarter of 2025. I’m happy to inform you that we have also registered and set up the office for the Odu’a Investment Foundation today.

“The outlook for 2023 remains positive, we expected some of the critical changes in the monetary and fiscal policy environment that will drive activities in real estate and construction, agriculture, and the power sector amongst others.”

“I believed that the year 2023 will be pivotal for the business, several transformational initiatives in our operations will be completed or nearing completion, and it will therefore be a year of consolidating on the significant shift that the board and management have worked so diligently to achieve over the last three years. The multiplier effects that we expect on our revenue and asset base have begun to appear and the trajectory of the business can only be upwards”

Speaking,the Group Managing Director/CEO of the Company, Mr. Adewale Raji,said Odu’a Investment Company recorded a revenue of N3.68 billion in 2022 which was an 8.5% decrease from the 2021 amount of N4.01 billion. Profit Before Tax was N4.08 billion compared to the 2021 figure of N9.37 billion.

He hinted that this was driven mainly by a reduction in revaluation gains on investment properties from N7.11 billion in 2021 to N2.98 billion in 2022.

He added:”These gains do not occur on all our properties all at once and will typically vary from one year to another. If this Accounting gains are removed, the normalized Profit Before Tax for 2022 will be N1.1 billion compared to N2.26 billion for 2021Based on this modest profitability, the Board of Odu’a Investment Company limited is proposing for the approval of the shareholders a gross dividend of N428 million.”

“This is a 2.2% increase over the N418 million paid for 2021 Financial Year. Should this recommendation be approved and paid out, it will bring the total dividend paid to Shareholders over the last 9 years to the sum of N2.56 billion”

Isese Festival Will Hold In Ilorin, Traditional Worshippers Insist

The first edition of its Isese Youth Festival will hold on the 20th of August, 2023, in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital,the Youth Wing of the International Council for Ifa Religion (ICIR),has said.

Mr. Olowoopejo Fashola Oluwagbenga, the Leader of the ICIR Youth Wing, who disclosed this after a closed-door meeting, said that the planning of the maiden Isese Youth Festival had started since last August

He said that the members of the Executive of the group felt that a more appropriate time was needed for the convergence of Isese youth adherents.

The Secretary of ICIR Youth Wing, Awoyemi Ifayemi Omonda also confirmed that the festival would hold in Ilorin-.

He said:“The maiden edition of the Isese Youth Festival, which is a massive convocation of over 2000 young generation of Ifa and Orisa adherents from within and outside Nigeria, would be holding in the Yoruba City of Ilorin, the Kwara State Capital”, he declared.

Speaking on the reason the festival was fixed to hold in Ilorin, against the backdrop of heightened religious tension in the city,he inquired if there has ever been tension whenever Christians in Ilorin hold their crusades or whenever muslim faithfuls exercise their right to peaceful worship and gathering?

He added:“Nothing should cause tension in Ilorin if those practicing other religions respect the rights of traditionalists to also gather and hold events peacefully and within the ambits of the Nigerian law,” He posited.

”Traditionalists in Nigeria have always shown a great level of equanimity in the face of harassment and intimidation from other religious faiths. This is enough to convince the world that Ifa and Isese are the true religions of peace.

“There are records of religious killings, arson and mass lynching traceable to those who profess peace; all the ungodly killings are on account of some negligible mistakes or foibles commited by their unfortunate victims.

“How many christians or muslims have been killed or even slapped by traditionalists on account of incessant stigmatization and defamation of some of our deities like Esu, Ifa, Ogun etc? They launch provocative sermons against us all the time. They tell the world, even us, to our face, that we worship gods that neither see, hear or speak. Why do they always create and fight wars, killing people, in defence of their own “gods” whom they say are mighty in battle? ” he asked.

He revealed that the massive Isese youth convocation taking place in Ilorin next month is for celebration and advocacy outreach to press home demand from the Kwara State Government to declare 20th August every year as Isese Day just as the Governments of Osun and Ogun have done.

”We, the traditionalists, are not prepared to engage any religion in violent confrontations neither are we ready to respond to any assault, except if there is an existential threat and we feel the need to help ourselves, perhaps because relevant agencies continue to show indifference to our situation.” Olowoopejo asserted.

The ICIR Youth Wing leader said the festival would run peacefully and that the Isese Youths in Kwara State have received the news of their hosting of the maiden edition of the festival with great excitement.

“Hosting the festival in Ilorin is significant to Ilorin Chapter of the ICIR Youth Wing because it would serve as a reminder to any deluded mind that Ilorin is part of Nigeria which still stands as a multi-religious and culturally diverse nation,” he explained

The global Secretary of the group, Ifayemi Awoyemi, further disclosed that all necessary correspondences would be done to keep relevant agencies notified of the event so that those who might plan to forment trouble would be cautioned ahead.

“We will assure appropriate agencies of our commitment to continue to be peaceful and law-abiding. We would however not fail to also inform them that we have resolved to protect ourselves and resist any form of intimidation and harassment during and after our peaceful assembly”, he added.

Nobody Forced Me To Cancel Aje Olokun Festival In Ilorin-Yeye Ajesikemi Olatunji

By Tunde Oyekola

Yeye Ajesikemi Olatunji, a traditional religion adherent and devotee of Aje Olokun, speaks to TUNDE OYEKOLA on the cancellation of the Aje festival in Ilorin, Kwara State, and the opposition from an Islamic group, among other issues

What festival do you want to celebrate in Ilorin that has set you on a collision course with an Islamic group in the town?

Well, I planned to celebrate the annual Aje Olokun festival. I’m a member of the Kwara State Association of Traditional Religion, also known as Isese. This is an association of people practising traditional religion. We are not members of the Christian group or the Muslim group; we practise traditional religion, which is allowed by the Nigerian constitution. We planned a three-day event to celebrate the traditional religious festival from July 22 to 24.

It is not a secret thing that we wanted to do. It is a get-together party in which we want to give recognition to some people who live within and outside the country. That was why we wanted to do it at an event centre. We printed an invitation and paid for a hall in an event centre, which is a popular area in the town. That is to show that what we want to do is not a secret thing.

Is this the first time that you are celebrating the festival in Ilorin?
This is not the first time that I am celebrating the festival. I have been holding the festival since I came to Ilorin five years ago, but I celebrate it within the confines of my home. However, this year’s festival is planned to be more elaborate and we want to give recognition to some of our friends who have been supporting us.

But why is this year’s celebration causing problems?

This year, I planned to invite people to be part of the festival and I want to appreciate and recognise some people who are my friends on the final day of the festival. But there was misinformation caused by social media. The social media went out with false information.

They started a publication on what we did not plan to do during the festival. They said that we wanted to worship a river and that we wanted to celebrate the Osun goddess as it was being done in Osogbo.

The social media published that we wanted to celebrate the Ogun festival and that we wanted to bring idol worship to Ilorin, which I know as a place of Islam. I have been living in Ilorin, which is a peaceful town, and I have enjoyed the peace of the town since I came to settle here. I am a peaceful person and nobody has gone to report to anyone that I have disturbed him or her, and no one can accuse me of carrying any sacrifice or littering the area with sacrifice. I have been living peacefully in the community.

However, social media continued to dish out false information, which did not emanate from me. Up till now, none of the social media operators have come to me to seek information or clarify things from me. The wrong information that the social media published made the people who came to my house to react the way they did.

The social media, through their various publications, made people misinterpret the programme. It is not my intention to bring idol worship to Ilorin because I know what the town stands for as the centre of Islam.

Those people who are circulating false information about me and peddling unsubstantiated rumours want to set the people against me. They want to set me on a collision course with the people of Ilorin, who have accommodated me and have been very friendly with me; I don’t know why they are doing it or what they want to gain from it.

It was alleged that you were circulating invitations about the festival and that you printed fliers that you distributed around the town. How true are these allegations?

That is one of the lies they were circulating. I didn’t print fliers and I didn’t distribute fliers. Anyone who has the fliers should produce them. Although I printed invitation cards, I had not even distributed the cards before the problem started. I don’t know how the invitation cards got out because when the printer finished his work, he delivered the invitation cards to me. I only posted it on my Facebook and informed members of the Kwara State branch of the Traditional Religion Worshipers Association, also known as the Isese group. I have not distributed it to any of the invitees. So, how it got out (to the public), I don’t know.

How long have you been in Ilorin?
I came here (Ilorin) from Lagos. What brought me to this town is a long story that I don’t want to share here. I have been in the town for over five years and I found this place peaceful and the people are very accommodating. With the time I have spent here, I have lived in peace and I have recorded some progress.

People claimed that you wanted to worship the Osun deity, which is not acceptable in Ilorin. What is your take on this?

I’m a traditional religion adherent but not an Osun devotee; I don’t worship the Osun deity. I’m a devotee of Aje Olokun, which belongs to the Obatala deity.

Were you born into African Traditional Religion?

No, I was not born into traditional religious practice, but every family, especially in Yoruba land, has a trait of traditional practice. My foray into traditional religion is self-indoctrination. My conversion to traditional religion was through personal experience; nobody converted me to embrace traditional religion but I got the inspiration from dreams and other self-motivated factors. You should not be surprised if I tell you that I was a prophetess in a spiritual church before I became a traditional religious adherent and my conversion has paid off.

Are you married?
Yes, I’m married and have children; I live with my husband.

What is your means of livelihood?
I am a traditional religion adherent but I have my own business from which I source my daily bread. I engaged in some businesses. I deal in soft or non-alcoholic drinks, which I sell in cartons and I have a store where I sell cooking utensils. I also deal in foodstuffs such as garri, rice, beans, yam flour and other types of food. That is what I do to keep body and soul together.

There are claims that residents of the Oke Adini area have started moving out of the place as a result of the threat by some Muslim groups to burn down your house. How true is this?

That is one of the wild rumours going round the town, which has no iota of truth. You can see that this area is peaceful and no one has vacated his building or is planning to move out of this area. This is a blatant lie. Indeed, some Alfas (clerics) came here to tell us that we should stop the celebration of the festival, but they didn’t destroy our property or threaten my life. It is not true.

What happened was that the Chief Imam of this area had come here earlier before those people that you saw in the video came. The chief imam came here and said he learnt that we were planning to hold a festival, which we admitted; he advised that we should stop it and not hold it. The Alangua (community leader) invited me to a meeting. I explained to him that though we were planning to celebrate a festival, we were not planning to go to a river or take people to a river or celebrate the worship of idols.

When the Muslim group came, they didn’t meet me at home because I was on my way to the Kulende Police Station, where I was invited because of the same complaint that I was planning to hold a festival. I was on my way when my sister called on the phone that some people came to look for me. I told them that I was on my way to the police station and that they should wait for me to finish at the police station.

It was on the same issue that the DPO invited me for. I was told that they said they could not wait. I respect them but I had to report at the police station because the invitation came before the group arrived. I did not belittle them and did not run away from them. I respect all the Islamic leaders in Ilorin and I have respect for their tradition.

It was learnt that you have cancelled the festival. Is it true?

Yes, I have stopped the festival, but I have not spoken with any journalists about it. Since the problem started, none of those publishing false information has come to me to get the right information. You are the first to come and ask me about the issue. They said that the Muslim group threatened me that they would burn my property and that people had been deserting and moving away from this area; all these claims are not true, they are unfounded. Nobody is running away from this area and you can see that this area is peaceful and calm.

It is not because of what they are saying that I cancelled the programme. I cancelled it because of wise counsel from the elders, religious leaders and the police, who advised that the programme should be stopped. I cancelled the celebration because I don’t want any crisis; I don’t want people to see me as a troublemaker and I don’t want people to label me as having caused a religious crisis in Ilorin.

Most of the people expected at the festival are not from this community or even the state. Foreigners, who are my partners, were supposed to be here, but I don’t want any life or property lost because of me. Ilorin is an Islamic town and it is peaceful; I don’t want the peace of the town to be disrupted because of me.

I cancelled the programme for peace to reign. I don’t want my name to be linked with evil. Omoluwabi etiquettes don’t allow it because some miscreants may exploit the situation to foment trouble and engage in the destruction and stealing of property. I want my name to be associated with good things and not bad things. I don’t want to cause a religious war in Ilorin; I don’t want to cause any loss of life.

How much have you spent on preparation for the festival before it was cancelled?

I have spent a colossal sum of money in preparation for the festival. I have paid close to N300,000 to hire the hall; we have booked Aso Ebi (uniform attire) and customised T-shirts and other things, but what I spent is not equivalent to life.

Has any Islamic preacher tried to preach to you to convert to Islam?
No one has ever done that because they don’t know what I’m practising.

With what happened now, if they come, are you ready to be converted?

No, God has shown each individual what they will do to succeed and enter paradise. What I’m doing presently as a traditional religion adherent doesn’t mean that I’m being directed by the devil. God knows why he directed individuals to certain places and it depends on the character of such an individual. God knows the heart of every human being and it depends on your mind and communication with your Creator. I know that God answers prayers; it depends on how you pray to Him.

Some have said that they don’t want my type in the Islamic religion, but I cannot because of what they did to me on this issue be converted to Islam. Even when Prophet Muhammad started to expand Islam, the people he met were not Muslims, but they were converted because of his character. If God wants the whole people on earth to practice one religion, He has the power to do it because it is He who can guide people to be in the right way.

I learnt that you are a philanthropist and you are constructing a mosque. How true is this?

Yes, I’m involved in some philanthropic gestures. I help those who approach me for it. But I have provided a borehole for the people of this area and we are also embarking on the construction of a mosque, which we want to be a model. We want to build it to taste. I embarked on the construction of a mosque in this area because I realised that there is no place where the Muslims hold Jumat prayer in this area.

Although the fund for the mosque is not from me, it is from a philanthropist, who wants to build a mosque in the Islamic city of Ilorin. The philanthropist had gone through some Alfas (clerics) and for more than two years could not see the results of the funds given for the construction before I came in and since then, the construction had been progressing.

The person expressed surprise that he could entrust someone with funds for the project when he saw what we were doing about the construction of the mosque. I’m not doing it to please people, but I’m doing it to please my creator because everyone has a way of worshipping their God. I know that there is no place where you cannot pray to God before He answers your prayer in all the places; whether you are a Christian, Muslim or traditional religion adherent.

I’m not doing it to please human beings. I’m doing it for humanity; I’m not doing it for people to worship in the building. Even during the recent crisis, some of those that I have assisted also spoke against me and have condemned me because of the Aje festival.

What advice do you have for the people?

I want to advise that people should not listen to only one side of the case; they should listen to both sides before passing their judgment. We should not promote a crisis. Secondly, people should exhibit love. We should love one another. Love for humanity should come first before any religious consideration; we should not lose our Omoluwabi etiquette.

What advice do you have for the government?

The government should maintain equality among the three recognised religions in the country-Christianity, Islam and traditional religion. The government should treat them equally so that peace will reign. There should be no preferential treatment for one religion at the detriment of another. The government should accord traditional religions public holidays. The government should grant public holidays for the Ifa festival (Odun Ifa) or Oke Itase. It should accord recognition to traditional religious worship.

Culled from The Punch