Edo House Speaker Adjoto threatens aggrieved Muslims as battle over Imamship rages in Benin City

Posted by News Express | 15 March 2019 | 1,716 times

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•Edo House Speaker, Hon. Kabiru Adjoto

Crisis is brewing at the Benin City mosque in Edo State as a group of Muslims are protesting what they called the illegal imposition of a Chief Imam for the Central Mosque of the Muslim community in Benin City.

The group known as ‘Aggrieved Muslims’ who worship at the Central Mosque in the Edo State capital is calling on the State Government and the Nigerian Police to prevail on one Alhaji Abdul Fatai Enabulele of the Benin Muslim Congress to stop parading himself as the chief Imam of the mosque following a high court judgement against him in 2018.

Alhaji Enabulele had been locked in a protracted legal battle with the immediate past Chief Imam, Alhaji Sheikh Edosomwan, over the Imamship of the Central Mosque, but the court case was won by Alhaji Edosomwan, who, however, passed away in December 2018.

On December 21, 2018, Alhaji Enabulele, was turbaned as new Imam of the Central Mosque in a ceremony reportedly organised by the Otaru of Auchi, Alhaji Haliru Momoh Ikelebe, and sponsored by the Speaker of the Edo State House of Assembly, Honorable Kabiru Adjoto, to the chagrin of the faithful of the mosque and in flagrant disregard to a subsisting high court judgement that unambiguously bars Alhaji Enabulele from becoming Imam.

This reporter was told that on a particular day some Muslim faithful at the Central Mosque openly questioned Enabulele’s re-emergence and resisted the moves to impose an Imam on them while calling instead for wider consultations in selecting an Imam as Islamic convention dictates.

But rather than being listened to, the complainers were brutalised by security agents brought by Hon. Adjoto.

In order to seek redress, the aggrieved Muslims wrote a letter to the Edo State Government (and copied several authorities, including the Edo State Command of the Nigeria Police Force) seeking, among others, the restraining of Alhaji Enabulele from further parading himself as Chief Imam of the Benin Mosque in accordance with the ruling of the law court.

The Edo Police Commissioner, Hakeem Odumosun, called a peace meeting between the disputing factions which held at the commissioner’s office in Benin City. The meeting was chaired by the Deputy Commissioner of Policy (DCP) and was attended by Hon. Adjoto.

The meeting quickly degenerated into a heated exchange between the Speaker and the aggrieved Muslims led by Barrister Ochuko Mustapha Dafe when the DCP asked the Speaker to suggest a way for the peaceful resolution of the matter. Hon. Adjoto told the meeting that he would call a number of Islamic leaders and scholars to decide on the matter. He added that since the former Imam had passed away, Alhaji Enabulele could assume leadership of the Central Mosque.

Responding, Barr. Dafe told the DCP that since Hon. Adjoto is a party to the disagreement and had demonstrated an obvious bias for Alhaji Enabulele, he should recuse himself from handpicking scholars and Islamic leaders who would resolve the matter.

Barr. Dafe also disagreed with Hon. Adjoto’s argument that the passing of the immediate past Chief Imam, Alhaji Edosomwan, who was in a legal dispute with Alhaji Enabulele, automatically qualifies Alhaji Enabulele for the Imamship. He reminded the meeting that there was an existing and clear judgement from the high court which gave an order of perpetual injunction restraining Alhaji Enabulele from parading himself as the Chief Imam of Benin Central Mosque.

At this point, Hon. Adjoto insisted that Alhaji Enabulele could become Imam, arguing that there was no reason to stop him since Alhaji Edosomwan, whom he feuded with, had died.

Hon. Adjoto then said: “I would advise my friends here to go back to school and understand the law.” Barr. Dafe retorted: “It is you, with all due respect, who does not understand what an order of perpetual injunction is and your action to foist a person who the court has clearly barred from assuming a position is tantamount to contempt of court.”

An exasperated Hon. Adjoto said: “If not for the fact that we are all Muslims I would have used my powers to ask that you all be rounded up here and detained.”

This met with a defiant response from the aggrieved Muslims who insisted that they would not be intimidated by the Speaker. At that point Hon Adjoto said: “OK, we shall see in the Mosque.” When Barr. Dafe insisted that they would not be cowed to succumb to “illegality”, Adjoto the pointed to him and said: “Allah, I will kill you if I see you at the Mosque.”

The aggrieved Muslims screamed: “You can kill all of us. We are ready to be martyred by you.”

The DCP then calmed the tension and asked for a one-month period for consultations.

As at the time of filing this report, tension had engulfed members of the Central Mosque in Benin City as the possibility of violence is believed to be real.


Source: News Express

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