As Muslims celebrated Eid-el-Fitr on Friday peacefully through out the country, reverse is the case in Igboora town, Ibarapa East Local Government Area of Oyo State where two Islamic groups from Igboora and Igbope communities injured many people over claims of right to Eid Praying Ground.
Trouble was said to have started when the Chief Imam of Igboora, Alhaji Alobalowo went to Igbole Praying Ground, said to have been donated to the Muslim community, to lead prayers, but met stiff resistance from the Chief Imam of Igbole and his supporters who said that Alobalowo had no right to the ground because it was situated outside his community.
The argument over whose right it was to lead prayers at the ground reportedly broke into a fracas, with different weapons like cutlasses, axes, sticks and stones used by the two groups to fight one another.
Saturday Tribune learnt that it took the intervention of the Area Commander of Ibarapa Area Command, ACP Sola Oketuyi, who led policemen and operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) to the community to quell the fight and restore normalcy.
Reports say that the property of the traditional ruler of Igbole, the Asao of Igbole, Apostle Olusanjo Ojo was not also spared as his Sport Utility Vehicle was razed, while another car and the palace were vandalised.
Seven people, including the Chief Imams of Igbole and Igboora have been arrested, while five motorcycles said to have been used to convey those who fomented trouble to the scene were also recovered, along with some dangerous weapons.
Giving a background into the problem that led to Friday’s fracas, a source who spoke under the condition of anonymity said that the fight had been on for about seven years after the death of the Chief Imam who was leading the two communities in prayers.
According to the source, “two people have been fighting over the leadership of Muslim faithful during Islamic festivities, after the death of the former Chief Imam. The case was taken to court and the Chief Imam of Igboora won.”
It was further gathered from a reliable source that the Igbole Praying Ground was given to Igboora Muslim community by the traditional ruler of Igbole.
The source said that the two groups did not use the praying ground in 2017, but this year, Chief Imam of Igbole reportedly approached the Baale of Igbole to plead with the Chief Imam of Igboora for the usage of the land, pending the time the court case would be finalized, which was agreed to.
However, the Chief Imam of Igboora and his supporters, having won the case, decided this year that instead of using the central mosque as was being done before, this year’s prayers should be held on the praying ground.
Though the Ibarapa Area Commander reportedly called the two Chief Imams to a peace meeting before Friday, the bloody clash still broke out.
When contacted, the police spokesperson in Oyo State, Adekunle Ajisebutu, confirmed the arrest, saying that peace and normalcy had been restored in the two communities.
“It was an intra-religious clash between two Muslim communities of Igbole and Igboora. As soon as the report was received, policemen were drafted to maintain law and order.
“Seven suspects, including the two chief Imams, have been arrested and some dangerous weapons, such as cutlasses and axes used during the clash were recovered.
“The state Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Odude has directed the State CID to carry out discrete investigation into the incident,” Ajisebutu said.