Nigeria: Hijab Controversy – Christians, Muslims in Violent Clash As Kwara Govt Reopens Schools

Christians and Muslims yesterday clashed violently in Ilorin, Kwara State over the raging Hajib controversy as the state government reopened the 10 affected schools for academic activities.

This came as the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, asked Nigerians to hold Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq responsible for the violence and bloodletting in the state over his administration’s Hijab policy.

The Baptist Secondary School, Surulere, was the major battle ground where opposing parties besides exchange of harsh words, freely threw pebbles at each other, even as security operatives struggled to disperse the combatants including parents.

Some Muslims groups who had laid siege to the main gates of the school were chorusing “Laillah Illaha Lahu, Laillaha Illah lahu”

All efforts by the Muslims groups to allow Muslim students to enter the schools, were rebuffed by the Christians who were also at the main gate of the affected schools

As the situation degenerated, security operatives, deployed to the schools to keep peace shut into the air and used tear gas to disperse them.

The waiting students and teachers scampered for safety while the schools gates remained shut.

At Cherubim and Seraphim Grammar School, Sabo Oke, Christian leaders in white garment occupied the gate, drummed, sang and disallowed students and teachers from resuming.

The Christians in white garment displayed placards inscriptions such as “O to ge” give us our schools back”, “No to Hijab in Kwara”,” Kwara is not an Islamic State, Kwara is for all”, “Our schools is our heritage”, “we oppose the Hijab in our schools”.

Same at Bishop Smith Grammar School along Agba dam GRA, Ilorin and St Anthony Grammar School, along Offa Road, where the school principal and security officer who supposed to open the gates were nowhere to be found.

The teachers were seen in groups at the school gate while some Christian leaders were also there to monitor the development.

Already, the security agencies like police, civil defence corps, Soldiers have been deployed to all the affected schools to prevent the break down of law and order.

The affected reopened schools are, 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.

At Bishop Smith Grammar School along Agba dam, road a staff of the school Malam Abdulraaheed Gambari in an interview with journalists urged the government to be firm on its decision and restore normalcy in the affected schools.

He said, “Some of the parents wish that their wards use Hijab to school, government has already intervened in this matter,and made their own stance that the Muslim students who wishes 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 that the schools still belong to them when indeed the government owns the schools which they also know.

But Venerable David Babatunde Alao, one of the Christian leaders, differed insisting among others, “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. I don’t believe that our leaders would sell us out. So, we are still on it.

“The matter is in Supreme Court, why is the government intervening? In fact, it is a contempt of court. The government should allow the court to dispose of the matter instead of taking stand.”.

Meanwhile, CAN in a statement by its General Secretary, Joseph Daramola, blamed the state governor for the Hijab crisis.

The statement said among others, ‘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.”