By Shina Abubakar, OSOGBO

CHIEF Kayode Esuleke, a renowned traditionalist and Chief Priest in Osogbo, Osun State was on Tuesday remanded in correctional custody over the alleged murder of a Muslim worshipper in a mosque in the Oluode Aranyin area of the state capital.

Esuleke, together with his son, Ifashola and two other persons, Kola Adeosun and Idowu Hakeem were docked before Justice Ayo Oyebiyi of the state High Court on 13 counts bordering on murder, attempted murder, malicious damage, assault, breach of public peace and engaging in a public fight.

Esubiyi, a masquerade owned by Esuleke had on Sunday, June 27, 2021, left its abode at Olugunna Street, escorted by followers led by Ifasola, to pay homage to friends and family. The journey, according to Ifasola, took them to Aranyin area to meet a fellow traditionalist, known as Baba Sango.

However, a Muslim sect, Kamorudeen Society of Nigeria, led in the state by Ustaz Qosim Yunus was rounding off a three-day prayer session for peace in Nigeria in front of the mosque.

The Muslim sect occupied the road that led to Baba Sango’s residence.

The two were known adversaries and had a history of clashes over religious issues. Esubiyi led its followers through the road but while it was returning, the Muslim worshippers resisted it and a clash ensued.

Guns were shot and stones pelted at the mosque.

This led to the death of a septuagenarian Muslim worshipper, who was killed by a bullet, while several others were injured.

Allegations and counter-allegations

Several attempts to exonerate Esuleke were vehemently resisted by the Muslim group.

Yunus said: “The masquerade and its followers could not attack us; they waited until Esuleke arrived the scene, he stood in front of the mosque staring at me, and hence, the attack began. He gave them the guts to launch an attack on us.”

But Ifasola, who led the procession said: “Baba did not follow us. He prayed for us at home and warned us against engaging in a fight.”

Esuleke was originally scheduled to appear before a Magistrate’s Court in the state capital on Friday, July 2, 2021, but he was said to have collapsed in the custody of Inspector-General’s special unit, IRT at Oke-Fia, Osogbo.

On Thursday, July 8, 2021, when the Muslim worshippers, with Ifasola in the company of Kola and Idowu, were brought to court, Esuleke was not present.

According to his counsel, “he was not physically fit to appear in court.”

This generated a lot of tension between the Muslim community and traditional religious worshippers in the state. The latter organised a protest against the possible arraignment of the Chief priest but the timely intervention of officials of state government prevailed on the group to halt the protest.

The Baale Esu, was, however, docked almost three months after the incident against expectations from politicians and traditionalists in the state.

Arguments by his defence counsel, Mr Bola Ige, in his formal bail application on health grounds and lack of facilities to attend to the elderly priest in correctional custody was declined by the presiding judge.

Justice Oyebiyi ruled that the Esu priest and the three others be remanded at the Ilesa correctional facility until September 21, 2021, to determine their bail application.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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