Hijab: Muslim, Christian groups clash in Kwara school

The controversy over the use of the hijab on Wednesday degenerated to violence at Baptist Secondary School, Ilorin, Kwara State.

Hijab: Bloody day as Muslim, Christian parents clash in Kwara school

The school was one of the 10 shut down last month by the state government over the controversy and reopened only on Wednesday.

Kwara state government had waded in and ordered the closure of the schools to avert violent clashes by Christian and Muslim groups.

On Tuesday, it announced that the schools had been told to reopen but must respect its policy that allows the use of the hijab in all public schools.

“The government 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,” the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, Kemi Adeosun, said on Tuesday night while announcing the reopening of the schools.

According to her, the schools were reopened to enable students to prepare for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination.

However, reports had it that Christian parents at the school barred female Muslim students from entering the school on Wednesday. This led to a clash with their Muslim counterparts, which later escalated to the rival groups throwing stones and plastic chairs at themselves.

Some of the people were injured before security agents arrived to disperse the fighters.

The spokesperson of the police in the state, Ajayi Okasanmi, was yet to respond to telephone calls put across at press time.

The President, Kwara Baptist Conference, Victor Dada, told journalists that the state government does not respect the rule of law by making pronouncement over a case already at the Supreme Court.

“What transpired this morning is simply because the government led by Governor AbdulRahman Abdulrazaq is not respecting the rule of law and if the state government does not respect the rule of law, there will be chaos.

“A case that is in Supreme Court and judgment has not been given, the governor is making pronouncement.

“As long as the state government doesn’t respect the rule of law, we will defend our property and our faith.

“We will not allow Hijab in our school because this is a Christian mission school, let Kwara State government respect the rule of law,” Mr Dada said.

At C & S College, Sabo Oke, christians were seen carrying placards with various inscriptions like “Kwara State is for all, not an Islamic state”, “We say no to Hijab” and “Our school is our heritage”.

The protestors prevented the students and teachers from entering the school premises.

Similarly, at St. Anthony’s Secondary School, Offa road, teachers and students were also seen hanging around the school premises as the police, soldiers and Civil Defence personnel were seen trying to calm frayed nerves.

At the Bishop Smith Secondary School, Agba Dam, the school remained shut with few students and security personnel seen around the institution.

However, at ECWA School Oja Iya, academic activities have resumed as students were already seated in their classrooms when NAN correspondent visited.

The hijab controversy started over three weeks ago when officials of Saint Anthony Secondary School prevented Muslim female students from gaining entrance to the school claiming that it is a missionary school.

Several meetings were held between Muslim and Christian leaders to resolve the issue with the government temporarily closing down the ten schools until the reopening on Wednesday morning.

The ownership of the ten schools is still pending in the Supreme Court as both the High Court and Appeal Court affirmed the state government as the owner.

The security operatives close to the school had to call for reinforcement and disperse them with teargas.

The Kwara state government has taken over all the missionary schools owned by Christian and Muslims since 1974. But many expect the government to use their discretion instead of what the law says or not.

Three people reportedly sustained varying degrees of injury during the clash.

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