The death of the Chief Imam of Okene Central Mosque is breeding crisis between the traditional ruler of Ebiraland, Dr. Ado Bayero and governor Yahaya Bello over who succeeds the late Imam.
Currently, there are two sects husling for leadership of the mosque with one looking up to the governor, while the other look up to the traditional ruler for support.
The two interested Islamic sects are Tijaniya and Izala.
There were reports that the two groups almost clashed at the Juma’at prayers two weeks ago that would have resulted to blood bath before the intervention of security agents.
Whereas, the members of Tijaniya sect are supporting the appointment of Alhaji Salihu Abere who, before the demise of the Chief Imam, was the Naibi (second-in-command), the adherents of Izala are angling for Sheikh Luqman Abdullah, the son of the late Chief Imam.
Sheikh Abdullah is the Chairman of Kogi State Hajj Commission and he is Yahaya Bello’s preference to succeed his father.
This did not go down well with majority of muslim in Okene who felt Alhaji Salihu Abere who is the ‘Naibi’, that is the second in command should succeed the late Chief Imam, while he is also the Ohinoyi’s preference.
Reacting, the Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, Dr. Ado Ibrahim who is also the National Vice President of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs revealed that the matter has been reported to the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III over the Okene Central mosque succession battle.
Dr. Ado Ibrahim stated this in an interview with newsmen over the development in Okene, saying that such thing has never happened before.
According to him: “As a paramount ruler, I am in a position to appoint Imams and Chief Imams without interference from any quarters.
“I am not saying this because of my offices in the Islamic organisations, but because I am a traditional ruler. That seems not to have gone down well with the new administration here.
“It all happened that since the death of the Chief Imam I was not in a rush to go and appoint somebody.
“I still want peace and to do my consultations, though it is my right and if I do it, there is nothing anybody can do about it. But I heard that government is planning to appoint somebody that is not the choice of the people.
“I will not allow that and I called the Sultan and told him, this is what has happened and I am not going to allow it because there must be due respect to tradition and religion. Even the people came to my palace to tell me that if the government is going to kill all of them, they are ready to die for the purpose of this course. The people said that government cannot appoint anybody unless I do.
“Also, the Sultan has told the governor of the state to stop his plan. He has told him that the person I put there all along, that is Naibi, should continue and at the right time, we will appoint the Chief Imam.
“I am surveying the situation more closely in the interest of our people, the religion and see what we can do not to cause destruction. We don’t want those that would create problems for us in the town. We want people who really know what Islam is. We want peace, freedom and development.
“If anything happens, the governor caused it and he has to face it. As far as I am concerned, I will not allow it. Some of these people have read Arabic Studies, but there must be a real understanding of the Islamic teaching beyond speaking Arabic language.”
But last Tuesdsy at the security stakeholders’ meeting at the Lugard House, governor Bello announced that the position od Imam of the Central mosque in Okene was still vacant.
He said: “On the the issue of Imamship in this central senatorial district of Kogi state, specifically in Okene, I have directed and ordered that the Imamship is still very vacant.
“The time is not ripe yet because the situation is still tense and we cannot afford to go into electing or selecting a new Imam at this point and we cannot allow any body to cause mayhem and insecurity in the land.
“Therefore, the current Naibi still remains the Acting Chief Imam while we will make a decision in the nearest future as to who will ascend to the position of Chief Imam of Eiraland.
“That position I maintain and I stand by it. I urge every vested interest to sheathe their sword and not create trouble for the good people of the district.”
Obviously, the Izala sect are contending that equity and fairness be allowed to play out, saying that Tijaniya group has enjoyed its fair share of leadership having controlled the central mosque for over 82 years.
They maintained that they have what it takes to preside over the affairs of the mosque.
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