Four months after the Ebenezer Cathedral at Ilutitun-Osooro in Okitipupa Local government area of Ondo state was sacked by traditionalists celebrating the Iwo festival, the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, is requesting the intervention of both the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim, and the Ondo State Government to investigate the incident. According to the Punch (29/11/2010), the Bishop of the Diocese of the Coast, Rt. Rev. Joshua Ogunele, wants government to investigate in particular, the role played by the Majuwa of Ilu-Titun, Oba Ernest Idepefo, in the incident which resulted in damages to the tune of N25m.
During the incident that happened on Saturday July 31, 2010, a church programme had coincided with the annual traditional worship of the Ominele deity. The problem is that the traditionalists ascribe to themselves the power to impose a stay-at-home order on all women and children – presumably to ensure the potency of their deals with the local slave-driver, the Ominele deity.
Irked by the Church’s decision to hold a parallel open activity on a day supposedly dedicated to Ominele, the traditionalists resorted to their trademark – physical violence. Rev Ogunele described the situation:
“Hell was let loose around 4.30pm when some fierce-looking youths numbering about 500, armed with machetes, guns, axes, used tyres, petrol and other dangerous weapons stormed the church premises while the service had barely started.”
“They destroyed the cathedral’s expensive tinted glasses , vandalised three cars, destroyed four residential buildings, removed the church’s valuable property and stole N98,000 in one of the residential quarters.”
Rev Ogunele said despite reporting the matter to the police and the state government, none of the perpetrators had been prosecuted.
The traditionalists neither denied the story nor showed any remorse. Rather, the head of the traditionalists, Chief Adedeji Iwere, attempted to justify the action by wondering why “…of the over 30 churches in Ilu-Titun only the Anglican Church defied the order that women and children should stay indoors during the festival.”
He sent his own appeal that the state should protect the local deities from “the ignorance of these Christians, who think they can teach us new ways of doing things.”
What a way to justify attacking people on their own property, for not subscribing to the instructions of a god they do not serve! If the government prefers to turn blind eyes to the problem, it should be aware that another July is just ahead, with the possibility of another showdown.