A clash on Tuesday, August 24, 2022 between worshippers of a Yoruba traditional festival known as ‘Oro’ and members of the Truth and The Spirit Prophetic Church located in the Ikorodu area of Lagos State has led to the death of one person.
A tweet today by the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, confirming the incident stated, “Oro worshippers clashed with church members holding a vigil. It sadly resulted in the death of one person. It’s clearly a murder case. Suspects have been arrested. But, henceforth, how do we ensure religious tolerance in similar cases?”
The Lagos State police command has arrested the pastor of the church, Mercy Okoch, 50, and nine of her church members for allegedly stoning a 25-year-old traditional worshipper, Agboola Akeem, to death during the clash, which happened at about 6:30pm.
According to a police source, officers of the Oko Oba Police Division received a distress call that the church, located at No. 2, Sanni Taiwo Lawal Street, Oko Oba, was about to be set on fire by some people. The officers instantly headed to the church.
Police preliminary investigation revealed that the traditional worshippers were celebrating their ‘Oro’ festival, while the church members were holding a service. The traditional worshippers were alleged to have stormed the church and demanded that its members stop their service completely.
An argument was said to have ensued between the worshippers and the church members, which escalated into a fight.
One of the traditional worshippers was reportedly stoned to death in the process, an act that infuriated his colleagues, who threatened to burn down the church.
The police arrived just in time to restore order and removed the body of the deceased, which they deposited in the morgue. The police have detained the pastor and church members, while investigations continue.
The ‘oro’ festival is an annual event celebrated by Yoruba-speaking towns and settlements, only by its male adherents who are paternal natives of the specific locations where the event is taking place.
Esther Ilesanmi is a Multimedia Journalist with The International Centre of Investigative Reporting.
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