Imam Abdul-Azeez Onike, the Chief Missioner, Nasrul-Lahi-l-Fatih Society, (NASFAT), has observed that the request by traditional religious practitioners cannot work.
He said the idea is an invitation to chaos as it would infringe on the people’s right to freedom of movement.
Imam Onike spoke in response to calls in some quarters, especially in the South-West part of Nigeria where there’s a great percentage of traditional religious worshippers, to have national holidays as enjoyed by the two main religions – Islam and Christianity.
In a statement made available to Daily Trust, Onike explained that while Islam as a religion believes in freedom of worship, it should not be at the expense of other religions.
He said the agitation by traditional religion worshippers will infringe on people’s right to movement as the stock in trade of idol worshippers involves restriction of movement.
Besides, he observed that there is no known leadership structure operated by traditional worshippers in the country as it exists in Islam and Christianity led by the Sultan of Sokoto and the President of the Christian Associations of Nigeria (CAN) respectively.
He said, “As stated above, Islam recognises freedom of religion but not at the expense of other religion practitioner, and without curtailing or restricting the commuting of people in the name of religious practice, which is the “Stock in trade” of traditional religion worshippers, in the name of ORO TRADITIONAL FESTIVAL and the likes.”
“Apart from the fact that, human rights will be greatly abused if the request is granted with the following instances: No movement when certain traditional rites are to be performed, women to be indoors and not go out to look for their daily bread because an arm (Ogun, Sango, Osun etc) of traditional religion worshippers are celebrating etc.
“It would therefore be difficult for government to maintain law and order, since it will not be clear which group is doing what on which day? The lack of cohesion amongst various traditional religious groups will make it difficult for Government to know which of them to deal with.
“Little wonder that, the government body set up to ensure peaceful co-existence and interfaith relations called NIREC (Nigeria Inter-Religious Council) has only Muslim and Christian leaders as Chairmen, in persons of the His Eminence, Sultan of Sokoto in his capacity as the President, The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, and The President of Christian Associations of Nigeria.”
According to the NASFAT Chief Missioner, Islam and Christianity are aged religions “with well set out doctrines, organization, structures and values, with penchant for decency and respect for human dignity.”
He added: “Whereas, Traditional religions are in fragments and in differing organizations and cult formations, with local colourations. They could walk around half naked and place sacrifices that are distasteful to human decency along the streets and on roads or road junctions.
“Granting holidays to a group that is yet to streamline its activities in terms of what, when, how and where to worship, and also having as its entrenched tradition “restriction of movement” will not assist the socio economic development of our nation and will disrupt the peaceful coexistence among various faiths in Nigeria.”