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Royal Rumble: Soun Ogbomoso Queries Chief Imam For Travelling Without Approval

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Tensions between traditional and religious authorities in Ogbomoso reached a new height during the week as the Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Afolabi Ghandi Olaoye, formally issued a query to Chief Imam Sheikh Taliat Yunus Olusina Ayilara for embarking on the recent Hajj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia without prior notification.

The query, dated June 10, 2024, is the latest incident in a deepening rift between the king and the imam.

According to the palace secretary, Toyin Ajamu, who signed the query, the Soun’s was concerned over Ayilara’s failure to adhere to an agreement mandating prior notification before leaving Ogbomoso for any purpose.

The query also criticises the Chief Imam for unilaterally appointing an acting Chief Imam during his absence, further exacerbating the conflict.

The query reads, “I refer to the earlier query issued to you with regards to your unbecoming and reprehensible conducts as Chief Imam Agba of Ogbomosoland and the need to desist from such conducts.

“You will recall that on your appointment as Chief Imam Agba of Ogbomosoland you signed an undertaking and agreement which you agreed will be binding on you.

“In the said undertaking, you unequivocally undertook to inform the Soun of Ogbomoso before traveling outside Ogbomoso.”

In his response, the Chief Imam asserts the autonomy of his religious office emphasising the distinct status of his role from traditional governance.

Photograph: Imam Ayilara (right).

In a letter addressed to the Soun, and obtained by Meteor Nigeria, Ayilara clarified, “My case is that the office of Grand Chief Imam of Ogbomosoland is not a traditional title, and as such, it is not under the control of Soun of Ogbomosoland.”

He underscored that the matter is currently before the court, urging both parties to uphold the authority of the judicial process.

Ayilara further articulated his position, stating, “Your Majesty calling on me to revert the appointments of those Muslim brethren I installed as religious leaders is directly related to the court case, and I believe the court must be respected.”

He reiterated his respect for Yoruba culture and tradition while affirming that Islamic practices and leadership within the Muslim community should not be subordinate to traditional governance.

The Chief Imam’s response follows previous legal actions initiated by Ayilara against attempts by the Soun and the Soun In-Council to remove him from office.

These actions are rooted in Ayilara’s assertion that his appointment in November 2021, sanctioned by Ogbomoso’s Muslim community, adheres to Islamic principles and should be legally upheld.

Before the query, the Ayilara’ family, representing the Ayilara lineage in Ogbomoso, had isowned the Imam, labeling him an impostor and condemning his alleged attacks on the Soun through social media platforms.

Prince Hassan Ayilara, speaking on behalf of the family, emphasized, “Teliat has been sent away from Imam Ayilara’s family quarters of Ogbomoso a long time ago since it was detected that he was an imposter and not the original son of the Ayilara family.”

The family’s statement denounced any actions that undermine the authority of the Soun and expressed solidarity with the traditional institution of Ogbomoso.

They distanced themselves from Ayilara’s legal battles and his alleged disparagement of local Muslim organizations and leaders.

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