Purported Appointment of a Substantive Chief Imam of Ebiraland:An Affront on Anebira's Peaceful Co–Existence.

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The attention of the Shura’ (the Consultative Committee) of the above-named Islamic da’wah organization has been drawn to a purported announcement of the paramount ruler of Ebiraland to the effect that he has (single handedly) appointed a substantive Chief Imam for Ebiraland.

For us, as an organization, a verification exercise was conducted, in line with the injunction of Allah (Al-Qur’an, Al-Hujuraat, 49:6), and Shura’ is convinced, having heard eye-witnesses and viewed the video clips that it is true, indeed, that His Majesty did say quite a lot while addressing the League of Imams of Mosques in Ebiraland, this day, Monday, 22nd, April, 2019CE/17th Sha’baan, 1440AH.

While Shura’ would not be drawn into joining issues with the paramount ruler, it is expedient to make some clarifications for the benefits of the higher authorities, the State government in particular, and to calm frayed nerves among the Muslim public whose sensibilities may have been insulted.

It is pertinent to note, however, that while we respect legally constituted authority neither our spiritual leader and guide nor the Shura’ would succumb to incitement or intimidation howsoever by not making our views heard.

The fact of our determination to making our views heard should not be misconstrued for either weakness or rebellion against legally constituted authority, Ipso-facto.

This is against the premise of the obvious innuendoes and threats in the said video clips. One is particularly taken aback to have to watch such from one that occupies such an exalted position.

This where we as believers, irrespective of our creed, need take UTMOST PRECAUTION to avoid drifting dangerously especially acting in ways that are antithetical to the peace of the land.

Our caution stems from the fact that we, as believers in the one and only Allah, should always exercise our intellect towards service to Allah alone and not make ourselves pawns in the chess game of anyone.

This has become necessary given the revelations in the videos, which compelled us to reminisce on our recent history; Shura’ recalls that the Palace’s singular act of de-robing illustrious Anebira of their titles and conferring same to others plunged Ebiraland into serious leadership crisis and violence with which we have been struggling as a people. We equally recall that it was the Kogi State government that constituted the Chris Ali Panel to address that crisis; sadly, not before a lot of damage and deaths of innocent sons and daughters of the land had been sacrificed!
Our call for precaution, therefore, is to allow the appropriate authorities handle the issue of the anomaly that the Ohinoyi is seeking to institute. Our position is predicated on the fact that the authorities are aware of the implication of the act itself; indeed, he did threaten to “dare the consequences.” To us, this implies that the speaker himself knows he was taking the wrong step.

Therefore, considering the security situation in our dear country, vis-à-vis the ear-marking of Ebiraland as a flashpoint before now but for the efforts of the Executive Governor, we make bold to say that such a declaration is akin to stoking the embers of violence and as such quite insensitive and inconsistent with those who believe in peaceful co- existence.

We also heard, from the video, his disclosure that the act was what he wanted to do on Friday, 28th November, 2018, but was prevented. This is a brazen indication of the source of the crisis of leadership that characterized the tail end of the Imam- ship of the late Chief Imam of Ebiraland – indeed, before then there has never been any such violent agitation to take over Imam-ship in defiance of the Islamic custom and procedure.

The act itself is also an affront on not only the collective sensibilities of Ebira Muslims but also the peaceful coexistence of Anebira, as a people. It was the grace of Allah that the monumental intervention of the Governor (in tune with Allah’s declaration in Surah Al-Hajj, 22, verse 40), saved the Ebiraland from the grave implication of what the ruler so lightly disclosed. May Allah sustain His mercy on Ebiraland and save us all from those who seek to destroy it.

It may not be out of place to say that some other believers may feel differently, from our position, they are entitled to their opinion. However, the act is an anomaly for a traditional ruler to toy with the appointment of the leadership of believers – a matter in which he has little or no apparent knowledge.

It is an unacceptable precedence: those who might be of the opinion to the contrary, i.e. that the paramount ruler could do so (perhaps because he is a Muslim), should envision the implication on the collective Muslim interest at such a time when a non-Muslim becomes Ohinoyi . . . this precedence would have become a ready reference!
Do not misconstrue our position; while we accept that there cannot be a vacuum, in the time being, we insist that the due process of appointing a substantive Chief Imam for Ebiraland should take its due course, by the appropriate authorities SURELY NOT ONE MAN, HOWEVER HIS POSITION, let alone the initiator of the Ebira Muslim leadership crisis seeking to impose “his candidate”, as he so stated in the video.

Ebiraland is not a sectional monolithic tribe, sect or creed where anything goes, and the whims and caprices of individuals become the law. Islam has given the believers all that they require for their lives – both the spiritual and the mundane, imam-ship and all that it entails inclusive.

Such Islamic provision are not for tale-bearing but for implementation for us to have the peace envisioned for us by Allah. So, such a leadership position for the entire Muslims is determined accordingly, and by means of collective resolve.

Today, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs stands as the apex authority to give direction, as may be appropriate. Well look forward to their intervention, howsoever, for fairness, justice and above all the togetherness amidst our diversity of creed, as Allah enjoins in Al-Qur’an, Aal Imraan, 3, verse 103. It suffices to state that in our ancient history, about half a century ago, and even at a time when the knowledge of Islam was relatively lower, our own forefathers opted for giving opportunity to all who wished to lead the Muslims by accepting a fair, just, and transparent process of screening and examination to determine who becomes the Chief Imam. We, indeed, are of the firm conviction that much more so is required in our contemporary world, replete with authorities in Islam, some of whom we could all be proud of in that capacity, why shy from such a fair process?

We also recall, from history that it was similar imposition that led to the crisis which took the lives of two worthy sons of Ebira at the time prior to the emergence of the late Chief Imam Musa Abdullah. Why create the atmosphere for same? It is on record that the crisis that engulfed the land informed the need for a more credible process which was conducted by the late Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, mufti of the North at the time, on the instructions of then Premier of the North, late Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, from which the late Chief Imam, Sheikh Musa Abdullah (may Allah repose their souls) emerged and he led and related with all Ebira Muslims peacefully, irrespective of their creed, till his blessed demise.

Shura’ recalls that the Executive Governor of Kogi State did say, inter alia, on the November, 28th at the initial botched attempt, that the due process would be instituted for succession to the position of Ebira Chief Imam only at the demise of our late Chief Imam.

To the best of our knowledge, that process has not been done. So, there is the need for all to adhere strictly to what Islam enjoins in such situations as this, as Sheikh reminded us of at the last program, i.e. that everyone need exercise utmost restraint by refraining from whatever is antithetical to the peaceful coexistence of all and defer to Allah Who, in His Omnicence, is aware of all matters. We should, therefore, strive to continually make ourselves true ambassadors of Islam and await further information from the state authority that intervened ab- initio.

َوالَّسلَـُم َعلَىَمِناتََّبَعاْلُهدَى
“. . .And peace on to he who follows (true) guidance” (Al-Qur’an, Taaha, 20:37)
Nuhu Ogirima
Chairman, Shura’

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