Nobel Laureate Prof Wole Soyinka has maintained that all perpetrators of crime against humanity must be brought to justice.
Naija News reports that Soyinka was speaking against the backdrop of the recent interface between Isese traditional worshipers and Muslims in Kwara State.
Recall that the Police had arrested and detained three Isese adherents, Adegbola Abdulazeez, aka Tani Olorun; Madam Efunsetan Abebi Aniwura Olorisha, aka lya Osun; and Chief Ademola Olawoore, aka Baba Tede.
The three Isese adherents were remanded in a correctional facility in Ilorin, Kwara State, for allegedly insulting prominent Muslim clerics of the state.
In a twist of the event, Justice Akintayo Aluko of the Federal High Court in Lagos State, on Monday, summoned nine persons, including the IGP and Commissioner of Police in Kwara State, following a request made by a lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, on a motion ex parte.
Ogungbeje, in the fundamental rights enforcement suit, numbered FHC/L/CS/1674/2023, sought eight reliefs and declarations from the court.
Reacting to the development, Soyinka, who had earlier intervened in the matter, said Isese devotees should not be intimidated in seeking justice.
He stated this while speaking on Friday in Lagos State at a Public Exchange on the topic “Isese, Samarkand, And Other Markets Of The Mind.”
He said the perpetrators of crimes against humanity included the “purveyors of sectional hate and discord who applauded the deed, including those who have obstructed the cause of justice.”
He submitted that “there are those who feel compelled to indulge their obsessions through the cooption of public symbols and educational institutions. We must never weary of instructing them, of offering them gleanings from the threshing floor of millennia-old and new transformative ideas, rescue them from centuries of false historicism, baseless fears, and will to dominate and/or flaunt an inglorious past of enslavement.”
Speaking further in a statement titled “Thus Counsels Isese,” Soyinka pointed out that Isese enacts an impartial order, and inserts a critical building block in the architecture of universal enlightenment. The celebration of ‘Isese’ is not defined by an annual observance only but as a presiding awareness, a daily companion that offers its essence for humanity’s harmonised co-existence.
“It transcends religion since it calls to what is innate to all sentient beings, those strange advocates of Freedom who, paradoxically, nonetheless persist in fashioning chains for themselves and for their fellow beings. Isese liberates.
“It is an expression of the collective human spirit, its enveloping, compassionate accommodation of human experience, yet one that strives towards the seemingly inaccessible, intuitively felt as an elevating dimension of one’s material estate. ‘Isese’ is a Path, not a destination, a seizure yet a pursuit of what we experience as the inner quest for ultimate illumination.
“ISESE does not conclude. neither does it exclude. It does not diminish; rather, it enlarges. It teaches the community to embrace, explore, and adjust. It defends the right to believe or not believe and acknowledges the limitless variety of phenomena, both what is provable and non-provable. ‘Isese’ promotes, foundational consciousness, gratitude for, and sanctity of human life. It repudiates the supremacist claim of any structure of spirituality over another. Content with the pursuit of inner serenity, which is the climax of and extraction from the celebration, ‘Isese’ does not seek to exercise power. All true religions know that celebration is a prelude to community equilibrium.”
“Preoccupied with the larger, imponderable questions of existence, ‘Isese’ does not thereby neglect the particularized. Thus, it concerns itself with the fate of every unit that makes up the community and is innately bound to engage in questions such as: What is a youth by the name of Mubarak Bala doing in prison?
“Recall, ISESE upholds the right to believe or not believe; thus, the question is not trite, it is not academic but is instantly catapulted from the particularized to the universal podium of Justice.
“How does a nation define itself when a youth can be sentenced to waste his years of mental prowess in prison for no crime beyond the right to believe or not believe? ‘Isese’ speaks to individual and collective conscience. ‘Isese’ calls on those misguided forgers of human chains to respond to a plain question: Why is that youth, and undoubtedly numerous others, wasting away in hidden dungeons for crimes that the very protocols of nation definition, known as the Constitution do not recognize. ‘Isese’ asks, When is Justice? And what is that ensign worth if it fails to fulfil the primary condition of social accreditation, which is – Justice?
“Justice, for which another name is Equity, walks hand in hand with Tolerance. Tolerance is, according to others, the right that we exercise on our own behalf. Do we need to seek far and wide to embrace the position of ISESE on the elementary virtue of Tolerance?
“Not in the least. In any neighbouring household to nearly every other dwelling in this nation, we shall encounter those whose Scriptures extol this very virtue.
“‘Isese’ declares that any such pronouncement or proceeding serves only to inseminate terror, not piety, and thus, remains an abomination in the very sight of the godhead. ‘Isese’ preaches mutual respect but insists on the primal sanctity of human life. ‘Isese’ turns its face against murder, such as the brutal ending of the girl student Deborah Samuel.
“‘Isese’ demands justice for that martyred girl, for her family, for her community, and – indisputably, the nation itself. ‘Isese’ must not rest until all the perpetrators of that hideous crime are brought to justice, including those purveyors of sectional hate and discord who applauded the deed, including those who have obstructed the cause of justice.
“All are guilty of instigating others to emulation. Any society that thinks or acts otherwise, even by omission, has chosen the path of disintegration.”
Soyinka applauded all human rights activists, community leaders, affronted citizens, advocates of equity, and all who had taken the course of defending the traditional adherents.
According to him, traditional worshippers have been recently victimised in Ilorin by state actors, including the Nigerian Police.
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