……Exonerate members from money rituals accusation
Members of the Traditional Worshippers Association of Nigeria, Oyo State Branch have applauded the human right activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana for supporting the call for a public holiday for traditional worshippers in Nigeria, saying that the lawyer’s position has shown that he is a true Nigerian who abhors religious bigotry.
Falana has advocated for public holiday for traditional worshippers like their Muslim and Christian counterparts on Saturday, during an orientation and inauguration programme of traditional worshippers, under the aegis of ‘Ijo Babalawo Onifa of Egbaland’ which held at the Valley View Government House, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Falana had at the occasion stated that traditional worshippers have the rights to a special day as holiday as entrenched in section 38 of the Nigerian Construction, which spelt out that there is freedom of religion of conscience.
He said by virtue of section 10 of the constitution, the government is expected not to adopt any religion as official religion, which should make government at the center and in States be neutral while recognizing the rights of each individual to worship the God they believe in, saying traditionalists are also entitled to public holidays, just as those influenced by Christians and Muslims.
In a statement signed by the Oyo State Chapter of Traditional Worshippers Association of Nigeria, Oyo State Branch’s Chairman, Surveyor Adefabi Dasola and his Secretary, Mogaji (Dr) Fakayode Fayemi Fatunde on Sunday and made available to newsmen, the association noted that the boldness of Femi Falana is the recipe of great leaders that make developed nations in the world.
They used the occasion to renew their call for Oyo State Government to look into the already signed legislative document on the need for special holiday for traditional worshippers in the State, just like it was done by the Osun State government.
“The voice of reason from Mr Femi Falana (SAN) has echoed across the nation as a voice of truth from one who is bold enough to say it to those in power, how we wish most Nigerians can be this spirited in saying the truth and standing by it, our country would have progressed better among other nations of this world.
“As he has said, the holiday is our right, just as the various holidays approved for Muslims and Christians are their rights, but unfortunately, our political class never saw the need to be impartial in giving us our own dues, especially on this particular issue of public holiday, Muslims have more than three public holidays approved by the federal government and State government, so for Christians, but ours is their problem, all we asked for is just a holiday that unites all traditional worshippers, which we call ‘Isese Day’.
“We once again give kudos to the legal luminary and enjoin other Nigerians with strong voices to please speak out for justice for our people.”
The group however called the attention of the Senior Advocate to the fact that members of the Traditional Worshippers Association of Nigeria are not found wanting in cases of criminalities in the country.
They claimed that those people called ‘Babalawos’ found culpable in cases of ritual crimes were not Babalawos (diviners) but spiritual herbalists who were not members of their association.
“These criminal elements that the lawyer said were the ones fortifying armed robbers and engaged in ritual crimes are not our people, anybody can be a spiritual herbalist if he or she has the knowledge of herbs and spirituality, it doesn’t mean traditional worshippers are the culprits, ours is a religion, not a professional calling and this is reflected in the fact that Christian and Muslim Clerics have also been apprehended in the course of committing these heinous crimes, does that make them our members?,” they inquired.