There was a clash between Christians and Muslims in Ilorin, Kwara state capital on Wednesday morning, March 17 after the state government today reopened 10 Christian schools which were initially shut down over hijab (head covering scarf) controversy.
The government-funded Christian schools had repeatedly been shut down over a dispute in the usage of Hijab by Muslim students in Christian schools.
The fight started after Christian officials of Baptist School, Surulere disallowed the girls in Hijab from gaining access into the school. Their action did not go down well with Muslim parents, leading to arguments and eventual clash.
The situation grew worse as Christian and Muslim faithful threw various objects including stones and plastic chairs at themselves.
During their protest, the Christians displayed placards with various inscriptions such as ‘No Hijab in Baptist Schools and all mission/grant-aided schools’, ‘Otoge, give us back our schools’, among others.
The security operatives close to the school had to call for reinforcement to calm the situation. The operatives dispersed them with tear gas.
It was also gathered that there was a protest at C&S College, Sabo Oke in Ilorin.
The government, in February , ordered the temporary closure of 10 grant-aided secondaryschools in Ilorin, the state capital, pending the resolution of the controversy in the schools.
Muslim leaders had insisted that students should be allowed to use the head covering in accordance with the Constitution but their Christian counterparts said such negates the heritage of the missions, who built the schools.
However, after several peace meetings, the state government approved the use of hijab in all public schools in the state and ordered the reopening of the affected schools schools on March 8.
The decision did not go down well with Christian leaders who kicked against it openly, which lead to another shutdown of schools until this recent reopening today, Wednesday.
The state branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria said that it would not agree to the use of hijab in schools established by Christian missions, saying that they were surprised that the government was trying to make a decision on a matter which is still before the Supreme Court.
However, the state government in a statement signed late Tuesday by Mrs Kemi Adeosun, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development says that;
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.
This path to mutual respect, understanding, and peace with regards to hijaab had long been adopted in all of the northern Nigeria and many states in the Southwest such as Lagos, Osun, Ekiti, and Oyo States.
Finally, the government reminds all its employees such as school principals and teachers in the affected schools to take special note of the policy. There will be zero tolerance for violations of anyone’s fundamental human rights under their watch.
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