LOKOJA – It was a free for all battle last Friday at the Central Mosque in Okene, headquarters of Kogi Central senatorial district when members of two Islamic sects clashed over Imamship position. The clash resulted in many being wounded.
The Friday clash was a spill out of the bottled up anger between Tijania and Sunni sects over who become the Chief Imam of the community, following the demise of the former occupant of the position, Alhaji Musa Galadima who died last year April.
Vanguard gathered that few minutes to the commencement of the Juma’at Prayer at the Central Mosque, a member of the Sunni group, Uztaz Bello Hussaini who was giving the hutuba (Sermon), stopped mid section and refered to Sheik Salihu Abere as the acting Chief Imam when the later entered the Mosque.
The statement was said to have infuriated one Momoh Jimoh, a member of Tijania group,(Where Abere belongs to) who demanded for apology from Hussaini for being rude to have use the ‘Acting’ appelage on Abere when he should have regarded him (Abere) as substantive Chief Imam.
Hussaini was said to have quickly reminded Jimoh that the governor appointed Abere last year as Acting Chief Imam, wondered why he should be the one to change his status now.
“As altercation ensued between the duo, one of the Sunni members allegedly pounced on Jimoh and beat him to stupor leaving him with serious injury on the head.
“This resulted to a free for all fight as both side engaged each other; while many people who were in the mosque to observe juma’at have to escape by whiskers,” Abdulsalam Mohammed, a worshiper at the Mosque informed Vanguard.
The crises was said to have lasted for almost one hour before policemen and soldiers intervene and dispersed the two groups; but not before many had sustainable serious injuries.
Abere was last year appointed by the governor of the state, Yahaya Bello as Acting Chief Imam but the governor has failed to allowed him being officially turbaned as substantive Chief Imam.
Those who were rooting for Abere to transit to the substantive Chief Imam position, felt the governor initially usurped the position of the Ohinoyi of Egbiraland who was supposed to choose the Chief Imam as was the norms and custom of the land.
Vanguard also gathered that the Tijania group felt the governor is not giving the green light for Abere to be turbaned as the substantive Chief Imam because of his (Governor Bello) personal interest and ego to appoint the Chief Imam from the Sunni group.
They avvered that they (Tijania group) who are almost 80 percent in population cannot be controlled by the Sunni members who only accounted for 20 percent of the Muslim population in the area.
However, the governor had on Sunday (yesterday) surmouned the Ohinoyi and five others Ohis’ in the Central district to a meeting in LOKOJA where he told them that henceforth, the appointment of Chief Imam will no longer be chosen by the Ohinoyi again, but by a ‘Democractical’ process. Bello at the meeting said the next Chief Imam of Ebiraland is going to be ‘contested and elected based on knowledge’
The governor however said while Salihu Abere will still continue as acting Chief Imam, the door is open for everyone that’s interested to contest. The meeting which was attended by leadership of both Islamic Group in the area has in attendance; Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, Ado Ibrahim ( represented by Chairman of Ebira Supreme Council, Engr Sule,) Clerk of National Assembly, Mohammed Ataba Omolori, Chief Justice of the State, Justice Nasiru Ajanah, National President, Ebira Peoples Association, Dr Adeiza Abdulrahman, Ebira Youth Congress, All Government Officials, all elected Political Office Holders, Traditional Rulers and media group from Kogi Central amongst other critical stakeholders of Ebiraland.End