The masquerade and his followers allegedly killed an Islamic cleric.
The Ogun State Police Command on Monday arrested a masquerade and three of his pathfinders for allegedly killing an Islamic Cleric in Ijaiye area of Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
The incident occurred on Sunday evening during the ongoing masquerade festival in the town.
The killing led to further crisis in the area as youth from an Islamic organisation in retaliation razed down a building belonging to traditional worshippers.
The Islamic cleric, identified as Lateef Sabiu, 22, was said to have been shot dead by the followers of the masquerade who carried dangerous weapons like guns and cutlasses.
A witness said the victim was on a commercial motorcycle, along with two others, when he was shot dead by the followers of the masquerade popularly called “lehin Aponle” .
About 24 hours after the ugly development, irate Islamic youth mobilized themselves and razed a house that is believed to be owned by the masquerade at Anigbio’s compound in Oja-Ale area of Ijaye, within the Abeokuta metropolis.
A community leader in the area, who is also the Balogun of Ijaye and Aare of Egbaland, Ganiyu Babayeju-Alemo said the crisis has forced the Egba Traditional Council in consultation with the Alake of Egbaland, Adedotun Gbadebo, to suspend other activities of the 2013 masquerade, egungun, festival in Abeokuta.
The High Chief, who emphasised that the masquerade has a penchant for violence, further stated that its followers were shooting sporadically into the air before they eventually attacked the deceased.
He added that the community was forced to invite the police following the attack on the family compound of the masquerade early Monday morning by the Islamic youth.
The Ogun State Police Command, in a move to avert what could lead to religious crisis, has suspended further activities of the 2013 edition of the annual masquerade festival not only in Abeokuta, but in the entire state.
The Police Public Relations Officer , Muyiwa Adejobi, who spoke with journalists in Abeokuta also said that the Command has arrested three persons along with the man behind the masquerade over the murder of the late Islamic Cleric.
Mr. Adejobi gave the names of those arrested as Ajayi Olabintan (40), Shittu Adeyemi, Waheed Babalola, and the masquerade whose identity was not unveiled.
While reacting to the murder of Mr. Sabiu, the Ogun State Chapter of the Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, described the incident as “disheartening and callous,” adding that the state government has over the years, turned deaf ears to letters and calls by the association over what it called terrorist acts of the traditionalists in the state.
“It is totally disheartening and callous that the current state government in Ogun has allowed emissaries of doom to invade the state and kill innocent citizens,” the group said in a statement.
The statement signed by MURIC’s Chairman, Soliu Luqman, in Abeokuta on Monday called on the state government to, as a matter of urgency, prosecute those arrested to prevent a reprisal attack from the aggrieved youths.
The group also called on the Muslim community in the area to exercise patience and desist from taking laws into their hands; adding that security operatives and the state government should be allowed to take charge of the situation.
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