Politics of Chief Imamship tussle in Ogbomoso

To the consternation of all and sundry, what started as a miniscule altercation between the current Chief Imam of Ogbomoso land (Imam Taliat Yunus Ayilara) who claimed to have originated from Ayilara ancestral family house of (Oke Agbede) and the acclaimed Ayilara family who disputed his ancestry on one hand, and the faction of the league of him who believed that he does not merit the position base on consanguinity on the other hand, has exponentially festered and divided the Muslims community in Ogbomoso into two unequal groups.

On one part, is the disgruntled vocal minority mainly made up of a fraction of Ayilara family members, sympathizers and members of league of Imam who feel offended by the Imam Taliat’s sermon of condemning their old practice of mixture of fetish knowledge with Islamic knowledge.

They believe that the Imam has no blood consanguinity with Ayilara and therefore, should vacate the position to allow the real Ayilara progeny to occupy the position believed to have been held by deceit, hence they tagged him as hornswoggler.

Then, on the opposing side are the majority Muslims who believed that the Imam’s persistence sermons to the Muslims community to stop patronizing fetish Alfas (cleric or religious leader) who missed Islam with paganism infuriated the league of Imams who drew a battle line and promised to remove him willy-nilly since they are instrumental to his emergence.

Therefore, this group being frustrated are up in cahoots with the section of Ayilara’s family to remove the Chief Imam either by hook or by crook, hence their last attempt to disrupt Jumat mosque which led to the arrest of some of the perpetrators.

Historical evidence shows that six ancestral lineages are acknowledged and entitled to produce Chief Imam in Ogbomoso based on rotation order sanctioned by the Sòún of Ogbomoso, the paramount ruler.

The two opposing groups in this saga, the conservative antagonists (that is those who believe that status quo of the ruling house must be maintained and respected in sequential order), and the liberal supporters of chief Imam (those who believe that Imam Taliat qualifies in all ramifications to continue as the chief Imam) have an argument something that appeal to mind if one dare listen to them respectfully.

Those who accused the Chief Imam of deceit and impostor challenged him to swear by the Holy Quran before the league of Imams of the Ogbomoso branch in order to establish the veracity of his ancestral claim to Ayilara.

However, the chief Imam unilaterally refused to accept their overtures since some of them formally opposed his installation as the chief Imam of Ogbomoso land from the inception when he was nominated and finally installed by the late Sòún of Ogbomoso (His Royal Highness Jimoh Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade III) who had the final say on who become the chief Imam of the ancient town.

As a son of the soil and a perceptive bystander who is interested in the amicable settlement of this tussle, I have some troubling posers for all the parties who are involved in this trajectory that has been fanned to destabilize Muslim community in Ogbomoso.

Was the late Soun of Ogbomoso not aware of his lineage before this young Imam was installed? Then, if the late Sòún were to be alive, will anybody query his authority on the installation of Imam Taliat?

Did the Ayilara family protest the installation of this young man when Sòún was alive? What was the position and response of the-so-called league of Imams during the turbaned and installation of this chief Imam? Did they ever raise an objection to Baba Sòún’s choice?

Is it the Ayilara family that is trying to lay claim to the Imamship position now or those who felt offended by Imam Taliat sermons? Will those who unruly try to remove this Imam forcefully have their ways if the late Sòún were to be alive?

Can the Sòún in council remove an Imam? Is it within their jurisdiction? Where are all these people who were protesting when Sòún was alive? Why didn’t they call Sòún attention to this aberration?

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Are they telling us that Sòún was not aware of his consanguinity before he was installed? We are made to understand that the league of Imam supported the late Sòún then, why are they against Sòún choice now?

Supposing Baba Sòún were to be alive, all the Alfas who are making noise now, will they have the audacity to criticize his choice? These and many more are questions begging for answers.

As the event is unfolding and escalating, one suspects a foul play in all angles and it must be noted that only three institutions can remove this chief Imam unquestionably.

The first is the Almighty Allah our creator the Alpha and the Omega through death. I never wish him dead. May the Chief Imam live long.

Secondly, the Sòún of Ogbomoso in consultation with Sòún in council (who are just advisory) and if possible league of Imams which might not be necessary, but based on preference. Since the case has been taken to court, this second observation is invalid.

Lastly, competent court of law after a series of litigation.

The perception of ordinary folks who are supporting chief Imam is that the League of Imams of Ogbomoso feel slighted that the late Sòún went ahead to pick a young man, an outsider who is not one of the domiciled Alfas, and with effrontery to criticize their creed “Aqedah”, something they have been doing for ages.

I am not supporting usurpation of power, but if Baba Sòún were to be alive nobody would have questioned his choice because he has the prerogative to pick whomever he wants.

Those who want Chief Imam Taliat out base on ancestral lineage might have a genuine case, but I suggest that it should be constitutionally channeled and pursued in the competent court of law to avoid crisis, breakdown of law and order which might fester beyond the capacity of law-abiding citizenry who are not party to this shenanigan orchestrated by the two side supporters. I mean those who want him out, and those who are hellbent in retaining him as Imam.

Bello, a social commentator, writes from Canada

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