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How I was Nearly Killed For Preaching Against Religious War — Retired UI Professor, Obaro


A retired Professor of history at the University of Ibadan, Professor Venerable Obaro Ikime has revealed that he was nearly killed for preaching against religious war.

Professor Obaro, a fellow and former president of the Historical Society of Nigeria who revealed this during an interview with PUNCH, noted that this occurrence led to his forced retirement at the age of 54.

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Explainig what happened, he said, “I was retired in 1990 and I was not yet 70. I was the chairman of a committee at the Chapel of Resurrection, a protestant church, and I read a communiqué to the chapel. My crime was that I said we should beware lest we get into a religious war

“I warned that other countries were been engaged in religious wars and for Nigeria not to be engaged in one, the chapel should from that day begin to pray. Religious wars have a way of not ending quickly because religion has its impact on people.

“The communiqué envisaged dipping the Quran into the ocean in Lagos. I saw this as a dangerous thing and spoke about Nigeria getting into religious wars if we didn’t watch it. So, I urged the chapel to begin to pray. Some people were not too happy when they got to learn about what I read.

“The Federal Government kept me in military detention for 96 days because of the communiqué I read. I wore the same clothes for 96 days and slept on the bare floor; I was lucky that I wasn’t killed. I was set free eventually.”

When he was asked about the conditions he agreed to before being released, he stated that he can’t divulge it but noted that when he came out, “the government was not comfortable having me in the university system. So, they directed that I should be retired. The senate protested in vain, so I had to leave before my time in 1990. That also affected what I got as pension.”

Speaking on the implication of not having history as a subject in schools, he said, “It will mean that they don’t know their country. Nigeria is multi-ethnic. History teaches how different people lived in the past, how they are inter-related, how they related with foreigners and got independence.

These stages of development are what we call history. Colonialism adversely affected Nigeria’s pace of development. The pact initiated by the colonialist deceived us into thinking that we were united when we have different languages.

“Everybody didn’t see themselves as Yoruba, Ijaw, Igbo, Hausa or Fulani. So, when you try to combine all these tribes as one entity, you create problems. There are pockets of ethnic groups that have not benefitted from government as their neighbours have. Now, people talk about Yoruba nation, Ijaw nation, Igbo nation.”

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