NB247

The Ondo State Government has barred any form of gathering in the palace of the Olukare of Ikare Akoko, Kadiri Momoh after he appointed a new Chief Imam for the town’s central Mosque.

The monarch’s appointment of an Acting Chief Imam, was in opposition to the recognition of the state government of the substantive Imam.

The state government therefore, directed Mr Momoh to reverse his decision on the appointment.

It gave the monarch 24 hours to rescind the decision or be dethroned.

There has been a sustained crisis between factions within the Muslim community in Ikare Akoko over the leadership of the Central Mosque since last year.

The sacking of the Chief Imam, Abubakar Muhammed over certain allegations had unsettled the community and disrupted normal worship especially at the Central Mosque.

His removal was approved by the Olukare who is seen as the leader of the Muslim community in the town.

But Mr Muhammed has enjoyed the backing of the state government and the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in the state.

The state government sees the appointment of the acting Chief Imam as a threat to the fragile peace within the community and an affront on its efforts to resolve the crisis in the town.

In a letter on Monday signed by the Acting Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa and addressed to the Olukare, the Ondo State government described the appointment of acting Chief Imam as unfortunate especially at the time it was trying to resolve all matters relating to the crises in the ancient town.

“This alleged action, to say the least, is most unfortunate and least expected of a traditional ruler who is desirous of a lasting peace in his domain,” the statement notes.

“That the state government is embarrassed by this decision is to say the obvious and will take serious exception to this action at this critical time in the history of Ikare.”

The Olukare was then ordered to tender an unreserved apology to the state government for his action.

Also, the government directed the Acting Chief Imam to cease from parading himself as the Chief Imam of Ikare-Akoko forthwith, adding that only the incumbent Chief Imam for the Ikare Central Mosque is recognised.

The government also banned any prayer gathering or congregation anywhere during the forthcoming Eld-el-Fitri in Ikare-Akoko.

It also warned that no congregation or gathering of any kind should hold or take place in Olukare’s Palace henceforth.

The government then ordered the Olukare to, “as a matter of deliberate policy, maintain peace in the whole of Ikare-Akoko otherwise he would be held responsible for any breakdown of law and order in the area.”

Besides the leadership crisis in the Central Mosque, the town is also at a supremacy war between the Olukare and the Owa-Ale, Adeleke Adedoyin, two monarchs heading the communities in Ikare.

With the elevation of the latter to first class cadre last year by the state government, the rivalry expectedly assumed new dimension and they threatened the peace.

Intermittent clashes had forced the government to impose curfews and shut down schools. The government had vowed to keep the central Mosque locked until the factions embrace peace.

Incumbent Chief Imam said he was turbaned 27 years ago and had led the mosque since then until the elevation of the Owa -Ale.

He said those against him were opposed to the policies of the state government.

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