Conversations about the power of religion in Nigeria have remained a touchy subject among citizens. Today, Nigeria has three major religions: Christianity, Islam, and indigenous worship. Over the last year, all three have fought to protect the laws and principles that regulate their practices.
In this article, we will look at four occasions in the recent year when religion triumphed in its effort to defend the beliefs of its respective practitioners in the country.
1. Sterling Bank Easter Advert
An Easter advertisement by Sterling Bank in April 2022 comparing the Resurrection of Jesus Christ to a popular Nigerian bread called “Agege Bread” aroused outrage among many, particularly ardent Christians in the country.
The slogan, “Like Agege Bread, He rose,” released alongside an image of the bread sliced into two halves, was deemed blasphemous by Christians, who promptly demanded its retraction and the ouster of Sterling Bank CEO Abubakar Suleiman.
A PR practitioner Akonte Ekine, speaking on the issue, felt the “association with Agege brand of bread was an attempt to use the word of Jesus describing Himself as the bread of Life.”
Responding to the advert, the Christian Association of Nigeria, in a statement tagged the advert ‘ungodly.’ The statement read in part, “The attention of the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria has been drawn to an ungodly, wicked, insensitive, and deliberately provocative advertisement of Sterling Bank, comparing the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ to ‘Agege bread.’
Sterling Bank eventually deleted the advert and tendered an apology to CAN which responded by stating that the financial institution had been forgiven. ‘As a result of this development, CAN has resolved to forgive Sterling Bank and its Chief Executive. We always remember that ‘to err is human and to forgive is divine.’
2. Davido Vs Muslim community
Unlike Sterling Bank, it did not appear that a Muslim devotee was trying to take after the release of a music video by prominent Nigerian musician David Adeleke, better known as Davido.
On July 21, Davido posted a 45-second clip from his signee, Olamilekan Taiwo, alias Logos Olori,’s music video titled ‘Jaye Lo,’ to his social media platforms.
The video showed some Muslim clergy dancing outside a mosque, which many Muslim followers condemned, calling the scene insulting.
Some fans quickly began to criticize the singer and his signee, even threatening them. Davido was also directed to remove the footage from his pages as well as the song video itself.
A tweep, Yaya Abba, reacting to the clip, tweeted, “Davido and this scammer should dare not set foot in the North. We Muslims don’t tolerate disrespect towards our religion. You don’t see Muslims making fun of others, I don’t know why you disrespect ours. We’ll never forget or forgive these two.”
A peek at Davido’s social media pages a few days ago revealed that the award-winning artist caved in to their requests and removed the footage from his pages.
3. Kwara Muslim clerics/Isese worshippers
A Muslim group, Majlisu Shabab li Ulamahu Society, in Ilorin, Kwara State, recently made headlines after a video of them storming the home of an indigenous religious priestess, Yeye Adesikemi Olokun Omolara Olatunji, to warn her against holding a planned festival organized by the priestess surfaced on Facebook.
According to the clerics in the film, Kwara State is home to Muslims and does not allow idol worshipping. “We are here on behalf of the Emir of Ilorin to ask that you desist from any Isese. We are also backed by the laws of the land. We are not here to fight you but to warn you against this celebration,” one of the Imams states in the video.
Yeye Omolara was not only harassed, but her life like Davido’s was also threatened.
Speaking in Yoruba on her Facebook page, she recounted her ordeal saying: ”I have been living in Ilorin for many years and have experienced nothing but peace until recently. I have always been fair and kind to my neighbours and this has been reciprocated over the years.
”One of my people shared the invite online which caught the attention of the Imams. In a matter of hours, I was tagged on numerous posts and also began to receive death threats.
“I also heard that meetings were being held to ensure that the Aje festival does not hold in Ilorin.”
The Osun priestess eventually moved her planned Isese festival to Lagos State.
4. Peak Milk/CAN
The Christian Association of Nigeria denounced an Easter advertisement by FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria PLC, the makers of Peak Milk, on April 10, 2023, calling it insulting.
Peak Milk utilized the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as a metaphor to market its product in a Good Friday advertisement, which CAN instantly condemned.
General Secretary of CAN, Joseph Daramola, addressing the issue wrote, “We find this advert to be insensitive, offensive, and unacceptable. Good Friday is a solemn day for Christians all over the world, a day we commemorate the death of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who was crucified on the cross for our sins. It is not a day to be used for crass commercial purposes,” Daramola said.
The advert was eventually pulled down and an apology was tendered alongside.