BY TIMOTHY AGBOR
TWO prominent indigenes of Egbaland have intervened in the suspension of the Chief Imam of Egbaland, Alhaji Saad Bamgbola.
They also appealed to the entire Egba Muslim community to sheathe their sword on the consequent suspension of the Egba Chiefs who took part in the suspension.
The Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, Professor Ishaq Oloyede and Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, who is also the Baba Adeen of Yorubaland, Edo and Delta States, Ambassador Sarafa Tunji Ishola, urged the Muslim faithful to embrace peace and unity of the religion at this point in time.
Ambassador Isola who spoke online from the United Kingdom to newsmen in Abeokuta in an effort to douse the tension, disclosed that he and Professor Oloyede, as high stakeholders, had fully engaged all those involved in the dispute in serious peace talks and urged them to ceasefire immediately.
The Ambassador further disclosed that they had persuaded all those involved to maintain the peace and not to take any further action that might aggravate the already tense situation.
He added that all those involved had accepted a ceasefire pending further action to resolve all the issues.
He revealed more that steps were being taken at the level of the Alake of Egbaland for an enduring resolution that would promote peace, mutual respect and understanding among the Muslim leadership and followership within the Egba Muslim community.
The High Commissioner, therefore, enjoined all Muslim leaders involved in the crisis not to issue or make further press statements concerning the matter until further notice.
He added that it was in the best interest of Islamic peace, progress and prosperity that Islamic schism must be avoided at all costs in Egbaland, Ogun State and elsewhere in Nigeria.
There was confusion in Abeokuta on Tuesday when the news of the suspension of the Chief Imam of Egbaland, Alhaji Saad Bamgbola was announced.
It was reported that some notable Muslims in Egbaland had, on Monday, announced the suspension of Bamgbola, over allegations of “high-handedness, administrative exclusivity, mishandling of funds and conflicting of interest between his position as the Chief Imam and membership of another association”.
It was further gathered that aggrieved Egba Muslim chiefs, led by the former Military Administrator of Bauchi State, Navy Captain Rasheed Raji (retd.) had on Monday announced the suspension of the Chief Imam and appointed a second-in-command.
Reacting to the suspension, the Imams and Alfas in the Egba community rejected the suspension of the grand Chief Imam by the Chiefs.
They described the suspension of their leader as an “embarrassment to the Islamic religion and an act capable of causing religious war in the town”.
Addressing newsmen in Abeokuta on Tuesday, three principal Chief Imams who make up the other three sections of Egbaland, condemned the purported suspension of the grand Chief Imam of Egbaland.
They said only the council of Islamic clerics in the town had the power to appoint or suspend the Chief Imam.
The Imams are: the Imams of Owu, Gbagura and Oke-Ona Egba, Alhaji Kehinde Sulaimon; Professor Kamaldeen Balogun and Alhaji Muslimudeen Nasirudeen, respectively.
Speaking on behalf of the Muslim community after a meeting at Kobiti Central Mosque in Abeokuta on Tuesday, the Chief Imam said the suspension of the grand Chief Imam was null and void.
He said the suspension did not follow the stipulated process of appointment and removal of Imams in the land.
Balogun said the suspension was ill conceived and capable of causing a religious war in the town, insisting that the four sections that make up Egbaland must be carried along in the appointment or suspension of the Chief Imam.
“We, the Chief Imam of Oke Ona, Alhaji Muslimudeen Nasirudeen, Chief Imam of Gbagura, Prof Kamarudeen Balogun and the Chief Imam of Owu, Alhaji Kehinde Suliamon, on behalf of all Egba Muslims hereby pass a vote of confidence on the Chief Imam of Egbaland, Alhaji Alade Bamgbola as the only custodian of Islamic religion in Egbaland.
“We unequivocally condemn the action of the selected Chiefs in Egbaland to suspend the Chief Imam of Egbaland without proper consultations with all the Imams in all the sections of Egbaland.
“The selected Egba chiefs, led by Navy Captain Rasheed Raji have no power to suspend the grand Chief Imam of Egbaland who was unanimously appointed by all custodians of Islamic religion in Egbaland.
“The Chief Imam of Egbaland, Alhaji Bamgbola should by virtue of all the principal Imams in Egbaland and by virtue of the position that you have taken here, the Imams and Alfas, continue to carry out all the spiritual functions of the Islamic region without any hindrance,” the Islamic leaders stated.
The clerics therefore announced the suspension of the Egba Chiefs who took part in the suspension.
“We hereby affirm and confirm that those who have suspended the Chief Imam are hereby suspended themselves.
“They are: Baba Adinni, Navy Captain Rasheed Raji; Chief Abdulquadri Orunsolu, Seriki Egba; Chief Ibrahim Abudulateef Ayoola, Baba Isale Egba, Alhaji Usman Akanbi and Bada Egbaland, Chief Sherifdeen Ogunrinola, the Olori Ratibi, Durojaiye Afuape.
“Because they have done this without taking us along, that is why we are dissociating ourselves from their decision and they are hereby suspended until further notice,” the clerics had said.