By Demola Atobaba, Ado-Ekiti
Tension is now brewing in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State capital, over the alleged invasion of Saint Andrew’s Anglican Church, Oke-Ila in the capital city by suspected masqueraders, who smashed the head of a worshiper with a broken bottle in the process.
The Vicar of the Church, Reverend Zacchaeus Ibitoye, who described the invasion as sacrilegious and barbaric warned that Ado-Ekiti should not be turned into a safe haven for criminals and where people would be living in palpable fear, saying the town is for all Ekiti and Nigerian citizens.
But the Odogun of Ado-Ekiti, Chief Obayemi Aladetoyinbo, who was the custodian of the masquerade called ‘Paragogo’ whose adherents had shaken the entire Ado-Ekiti last Saturday, ascribed the incident to either robbery or cultists’ attack, whom he alleged was rampant in the area.
Aladetoyinbo said the incident occurred at 5 am the day preceding his festival and that it would be wrong to have fingered his people as those behind the nefarious act.
The Chief added that he had reported to the police several times about the activities of cultists in Oke-Ila area, who normally involved in day and night robbery and wondered why nothing has been done to abate the situation.
The incident, which occurred on Friday, must have accounted for why Governor Ayodele Fayose and the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, Oba Rufus Adeyemo Adejugbe, had placed outright ban on masquerade festival on Monday coupled with how people were being dehumanized in town.
Governor Fayose and the monarch had in separate adverts aired on the radio version of the Broadcasting Service of Ekiti State, ordered the police to arrest whoever defied the directive, maintaining that peaceful co-existence among Ekiti indigenes is paramount to them.
Relaying the incident to WESTERN POST in Ado-Ekiti, Reverend Ibitoye said they were in the church on the said day when one of their members, who was returning home after prayers, was chased back into the church premises by cudgel-wielding masqueraders and smashed his head with a broken bottle.
The cleric said they immediately rushed the victim to the hospital for medical care after losing so much blood due to the severity of the wound.
“This is sacrilegious and barbaric. We want the indigenes of Ado-Ekiti to know that the town is home for everybody and not for the natives alone. We have reported the issue to the police and I think the boy who committed the offence has been arrested.
“We have also reported the case to the Bishop of Ekiti Diocese, Bishop Christopher Omotunde, the Ewi–in-Council and the Odogun of Ado-Ekiti in particular, who they said was in charge of the masquerades and they all condemned the action.
“Our church leaders had met and we will meet today by 4pm to take a definite position on the matter before proceeding to Ewi’s palace where the suspect will be tried traditionally before other things shall follow.
“That was the first time we will be witnessing such attack and we wondered why a church that is supposed to be a place of refuge could be subjected to attacks by masquerades,” he said.
Aladetoyinbo, who is the traditional Prime Minister of Ado-Ekiti, said: “I have even taken time to report the activities of the cultists during a meeting of Ado-Ekiti Security Advisory Committee, comprising the chiefs and the security chiefs about the activities of these cultists who have taken over Oke-Ila area.
“At times, they will be shooting into the air sporadically in the daylight and this is becoming so bad and I think they were responsible for the attack and this is condemnable,” he said.