Feast of Sacrifice amidst security fears
Today, Muslim faithful in Nigeria joins the rest of the world to celebrate Eid-el-Kabir, known as the feast or festival of the sacrifice. It is the second of two Islamic holidays celebrated worldwide each year, the other being Eid-el-Fitr, which comes up at the end of Ramadan every year.
Known in local parlance as Sallah, Eid-el-Kabir honours the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God’s command. Before Abraham could sacrifice his son, God provided a ram to sacrifice instead. In commemoration of this, an animal is sacrificed and divided into three parts: one third of the share is given to the poor and needy; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbours; and the remaining third is retained by the family.
The slaughtering of rams is the catchiest events on this day as it is expected of a Muslim home to kill at least a ram on this day. Like Yuletide, in the climax of its arrival, the Eid-el-Kabir is expected to hit the town with a few activities such as buying and selling of rams.
However, ram sellers have bemoaned the low patronage across the country. Traders have attributed this unfriendly condition to the parlous state of the country’s economy. Other reasons cited include the high exchange rate of the naira and the high cost of transportation.
Musa Yero, the Acting Chairman, Ram Dealers’ Association, Enugu chapter, attributed the situation to the high cost of the animals. Yero said the price increase was beyond dealers’ expectations. He attributed the increase to the cost of transportation from the northern part of the country.
He said that a medium-size ram was selling at N55,000 as against its previous price of N35,000, while a bigger ram also goes for between N75,000 and N95,000 as against N68,000 and N73,000 previously.
Another ram dealer, Isa Abdullahi, noted that the price hike had affected sales, stressing that customers were not coming to buy as they should. Abdullahi said dealers in the northern part of the country were still afraid to go about their ram business due to the security situation around them, which, he noted, had impacted on the prices.
Today’s celebration enjoys special significance because the Day of Sacrifice marks the climax of Hajj or pilgrimage. The Hajj is considered one of the five pillars of Islam and all Muslims (who have the means) must carry out the Hajj, at least once in their lifetime – being the pilgrimage, which was started by Ibrahim a long time ago.
Rams are slaughtered world over to honour Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his beloved son for Allah. In commemoration of their rejection of Satan, stones are thrown at symbolic pillars at the Stoning of the Devil during Hajj rites, this is in accordance with one of Ibrahim’s rites during his Hajj. Celebrations continue for about three to five days after the festival, with visitations to friends, families and recreational sites and Muslims exchange pleasantries, saying “Eid Mubarak”.
To ensure a hitch-free celebration in the country, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim K. Idris, has directed the implementation of robust and elaborate security arrangement throughout the country by the Assistant Inspectors General of Police and Commissioners of Police in zonal and state commands.
According to a statement by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Jimoh Moshood, they are to be on ground to beef up security, carryout massive deployment of police personnel on police visibility patrols, crowd controls, and adequate protection and safety at all Eid praying grounds and other venues of celebration in their areas of responsibilities.
“The deployment of additional personnel and crime prevention and detection equipment will be carried out to cover identified and perceived criminal black spots, flash points, abandoned and uncompleted projects sites being used as hideouts by criminal elements to commit crime. The ongoing raids operations and removal of suspected criminals will continue throughout the Sallah period and beyond. The deployment will also cover recreation centres, public places and critical infrastructure and public utilities.
“Federal Highway patrol Teams, the Safer Highway patrol Units, and Anti-Crime patrols have been deployed along Highways and major roads throughout the country for the protection and safety of travellers, commuters and other road users during the period and beyond. They are under strict instructions to be civil, polite, compassionate and firm in carryout their duties. Intense surveillance/Intelligence gathering will be maintained, special deployment and stop and search duties will be emplaced at all flash/vulnerable points in every state of the country,” he said.
In the same vein, the Lagos State Police Command has deployed an additional 1,000 police officers across the state for the Eid-El-Kabir celebration. Chike Oti, the Lagos police spokesperson, said the move was to ensure a hitch-free Sallah through effective coverage of the prayer grounds, holiday spots, and the neighbourhoods.
“In addition, specialised units like the Explosive Ordinance Department (EOD), the Canine section (Police dogs), the Air support unit, Marine police and the Mounted troops (Horsemen), have been activated and sufficiently mobilised to guarantee security during the holidays,” said Oti, quoting the Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgal.
Also, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has urged Nigerians to be security conscious during and after the celebrations. The Director-General, Mr. Mustapha Maihajja, who made the plea on Monday, advised parents and guardians to be extra vigilant in keeping watch over their children and wards.
Maihajja also advised the beach revelers to be watchful of the unstable ocean surge currently being witnessed across the coastlines. While congratulating Muslims for witnessing the celebration, he advised the beach operators to take all necessary precautions to ensure safety of the revelers.
The director-general advised both private and commercial watercraft operators to ensure that their routes along the inland ways were log free. “Please ensure you install all gadgets on your ferries and boats in order to make your boats safe in the night during operations.“Watercraft operators must ensure that all their passengers put on live jackets that are effective,” he said in a statement signed by Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, the spokesman for the agency.
A warning, however, came from the United States Embassy in Nigeria as it urged its citizens to exercise caution during the period. The warning came in its notice to close operations in its Abuja and Lagos offices on Tuesday and Wednesday in observance of the Eid-el-Kabir. The embassy announced the closure in its twitter handle @USEmbassyAbuja. It advised Americans in Nigeria to be aware of their surroundings during the holiday, noting that security measures in Nigeria remain heightened due to threats posed by extremist groups. The embassy also advised Americans in Nigeria to carry proper identification, including a U.S. passport with a current Nigerian visa.
“Expect additional police and military checkpoints and possible road blocks throughout the country, exercise caution when walking or driving at night. Review travel routes and times to reduce time and place predictability.
“Avoid crowds and demonstrations. Be aware of your surroundings. Keep a low profile. Stay alert in public places, including schools, hospitals, and government facilities, places of worship, tourist locations and transportation hubs. Review your personal security plans. Monitor local media for updates,” it added.The embassy on August 15 temporarily suspended its consular services in Abuja due to reasons it said were beyond its control. The embassy, however, maintained that its Consulate Office in Lagos was not affected by the development.
Meanwhile, the Yobe State government has placed a 12-hour restriction of vehicular movement in the state during the occasion of the Eid-el Kabir celebration. A statement by on Monday by Abdullahi Bego, the Director General of Press Affairs to Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, said this became necessary following a security meeting he had with heads of security, intelligence and law enforcement in the state.
“This is to inform members of the public that Governor Ibrahim Gaidam has approved the placement of a 12-hour restriction of vehicular movement across the state as part of preparations for peaceful and hitch-free Eid-el Kabir prayers on Tuesday,” the statement added.According to Bego, the restriction would begin from 10:00p.m. Monday to 10:00a.m. Tuesday. Bego said the governor, while wishing the Muslim Ummah a peaceful and memorable Eid-el Kabir festival, emphasised that no vehicle would be allowed within or near Eid prayer grounds except those on special duties.
However, the Adamawa State government has cancelled the usual Sallah homage to traditional rulers and other stakeholders in the state as part of this year’s Eid-el-Kabir due to insecurity and emergencies created by flooding. The Commissioner for Information, Mr. Ahmad Sajo, said this in a statement issued in Yola on Monday.
According to him, this year’s homage was cancelled after due consultations with the leadership of the traditional institution in the state. “After due consultation with the Chairman, Adamawa State Council of Emirs and Chiefs, the Adamawa State Government has directed that the usual Sallah homage be cancelled,” Sajo said.
“The cancellation was due to a number of reasons, which included insecurity and the emergencies created by flooding, which washed away a number of bridges and rendered many families homeless.”The commissioner, however, urged traditional rulers, prominent citizens and critical stakeholders in the state to use the Sallah period to sensitize the people on the importance of peace, unity and security.
An Abuja-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Yahya Al-Yolawi, on Monday, advised Muslims to only use their legitimate means to buy ram for Eid-el-Kabir sacrifice. Al-Yolawi, who is also the Chief Imam of Area 10 Garki Jumma’at Mosque, gave the advice in an interview with newsmen in Abuja.The cleric, who warned Muslims against using ill-gotten money for the purchase ram for sacrifice, noted that the Almighty Allah was pure and would accept only that which was clean and pure.
Al-Yolawi also admonished Muslims to have good intention for the sacrifice because it was a prerequisite to achieving acceptable sacrifice. According to him, the meat or blood of the sacrificed ram cannot reach but Allah is only concern about the piety of a believer. He enjoined Muslims to ensure that the animal to be sacrificed had reached the required age, adding a minimum of six months for a sheep, one year for a goat, two years for cow and five years for camel.