Violence yesterday marred the reopening of 10 schools recently closed down by the Kwara State Government over the wearing of Hijab as the Christians and Muslims clashed in many schools.
This is coming as the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has said that the Kwara State Governor, Mr. AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, should be held responsible for the violence caused by the unrest over wearing of hijab in schools.
The Emir of Ilorin and Chairman of the Kwara State Council of Chiefs, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, has however, urged Islam and Christian faithful in the state to embrace peace.
In Baptist Secondary School, Surulere, the situation was tense as security operatives had to disperse the Muslims and Christian leaders who were throwing stones at each other.
However, security agencies such as the police, civil defence corps, and soldiers were deployed to the affected schools to prevent breakdown of law and order.
The affected schools, which were reopened yesterday include: C&S College Sabo Oke; St. Anthony College, Offa Road; ECWA School, Oja Iya; Surulere Baptist Secondary School and Bishop Smith Secondary School, Agba Dam.
Others are: CAC Secondary School Asa Dam Road; St. Barnabas Secondary School Sabo Oke; St. John School Maraba; St. Williams Secondary School Taiwo Isale; and St. James Secondary School Maraba.
THISDAY gathered that the students who were eager to resume could not gain entrance into the schools as leaders of the Christian’s and their members were already at the main gate of the affected schools and asked the students to go back to their various homes.
The Christians were armed with various inscriptions like “O To Ge,” Give us our schools back, “No to Hijab in Kwara”, “Kwara is not an Islaimc state, Kwara is for all”, “Our schools is our heritage,” and “We oppose the Hijab in our schools,” among others
Also, some Muslims groups who were also laid siege at the main gates of the affected schools were also shouting “Laillah Illaha Lahu, Laillaha Illah lahu” .
At Bishop Smith Grammar School along Agba Dam Road, a staff of the school, Mr. Abdulraaheed Gambari in an interview with journalists, urged the state government to be firm in its decision and restore normalcy in the affected schools.
He said: “Some of the parents wish that their wards use hijab to school; and government has already intervened in this matter and made their own stance that the Muslim students who wish be allowed to use Hijab in the Christian schools.
“They are not forcing it on non-Muslims. The issue is that the Christians can’t still be behaving as if the schools belong to them when indeed the government owns the schools, which they also know.
But one of the Christian leaders, Venerable David Babatunde Alao, differed as he insisted that they would not allow any of their students to wear hijab.
He said, “As at last week Tuesday at our meeting, our resolution was still the same – no students would be allowed to wear hijab in any of the Christian schools
“It’s in Supreme Court. Why is the government intervening? In fact, it is a contempt of court. The government should allow the court to dispose off the matter instead of taking a stand.”
In a statement issued in Ilorin by the Permanent Secretary of the State Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, Mrs. Mary Kemi Adeosun, the state government said it is convinced that “its policy to allow willing Muslim schoolgirls to wear their hijab in public schools will lead to sustainable peace and communal harmony anchored on mutual respect and understanding”.
Meanwhile, CAN has said that the Kwara State Governor, AbdulRazaq, should be held responsible for the violence caused by the unrest over wearing of hijab in schools.
The association urged the federal government and the Inspector General of Police to intervene in the ongoing violence over the hijab policy that has led to violence and bloodletting in Kwara State.
In a statement issued by the General Secretary of CAN, Rev. Joseph Bade Daramola, the body accused the governor of allegedly making a pronouncement on the issue of hijab wearing in violation of the court directive on the matter.
CAN said: “The Governor of Kwara State, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, should be held responsible if the matter degenerates because it was his pronouncement on the issue of hijab wearing in violation of the court directive on the matter to maintain status quo until the matter is finally resolved by the court that led to this trouble.
“We learnt that the state government has ordered the reopening of the closed schools without resolving the crisis and consequently, churches and mission schools are being vandalised with impunity by the hoodlums banking on the state government’s support in the pretext of enforcing the policy. Some innocent Christians are being violently abused and attacked under the watch of the Governor who is playing ostrich”.
CAN said that if any damage is done to any church or anyone is injured on this matter, the governor of Kwara State will be held responsible.
Meanwhile, the Emir of Ilorin and Chairman of the Kwara State Council of Chiefs, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, has however, urged Islam and Christian faithful in the state to embrace peace.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that Sulu-Gambari made the appeal yesterday in Ilorin in a statement issued by his spokesman, Mr. AbdulAzeez Arowona.
The first-class traditional ruler counseled followers of the two religions to continue to live in peace and harmony with one another for stability and prosperity to reign supreme in the state.
According to the statement, the royal father described the controversy over the use of the hijab (Muslim female headgear) by female students of 10 government grant-aided schools as unwarranted.
“No group or individual should take laws into their hands. Ilorin is known for peaceful co-existence nationwide. Let us remain calm and resolute to the fact that the position of law is clear on the matter.
“There is no fight between Muslims and Christians. Let us avoid a religious crisis of any kind. Islam and Christianity preach peace and harmony. Let us also avoid division and enemity in our society,” the Emir urged.
He, therefore, appealed to leaders of the two religions to prevail on their followers to respect constituted authorities in their dealings with members of the public.