Nigeria: Religious Tension in Ilorin Over Hijab, Kwara Govt Postpones Resumption of 10 Schools

8 March 2021

Ilorin — Amid criticisms and tension that trailed the approval of Kwara state government for the use of Hijab by female Muslim students in all public schools, the state government on Monday directed 10 public grant-aided schools, founded by churches, which were earlier shut over Hijab controversy, to remain shut until further notice, citing safety reasons.

The affected schools were billed to resume academic activities today (Monday) before the postponement of resumption by the government.

The affected Christian mission founded schools are C&S College, Sabo Oke; St. Anthony College, Offa Road; ECWA School, Oja Iya; Surulere Baptist Secondary School; Bishop Smith Secondary School, Agba Dam; 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.

Various mission owners in the state like Cherubim and Seraphim, ECWA, Baptist, and their parent body, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have rejected the order saying that, they would not allow the use of Hijab in their schools in the state.

They also called for the return of their schools to them, adding that, the order of the state government to allow the use of Hijab in the affected schools lacked proper consultations and they would resist the move in the state.

But, Muslim leaders insisted that students should be allowed to use the head covering in accordance with the Constitution.

Palpable tension gripped the state as the 10 public grant-aided schools were directed to resume academic work today (Monday) before the state government directed that the resumption had been postponed indefinitely.

The development according to THISDAY checks might not be unconnected with security report that did not favour the resumption of the affected schools over rising tension between adherents of the two religions.

It was also gathered that the state government at the weekend in Ilorin made peace efforts to douse the tension through a peace meeting with mission school owners over the issue.

Sources told our correspondent over the weekend that, Christian faithful had been directed to occupy the affected schools and hold a day of prayer and fasting for divine intervention on the matter.

The development according to THISDAY checks might have prompted the state government to cancel the schools' resumption till a later date so as to avoid the breakdown of law and order in the state, which may likely snowball into a religious crisis.

In a statement issued in Ilorin on Monday by the state Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, signed by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, stated that, "The Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development wishes to inform members of the public that the 10 government schools where the use of hijab was disputed will remain shut until a later date.

"This decision has been taken for safety reasons".

The statement listed "the affected schools as C&S College Sabo Oke, ST. Anthony College, Offa Road, ECWA School, Oja Iya, Surulere Baptist Secondary School, Bishop Smith Secondary School, Agba Dam, 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.

"The government therefore directs schoolchildren and teachers in the affected schools to remain at home until the contrary is announced.

"The government remains committed to fairness, pluralism, and respect for the law and rights of every citizen at all times," the stated read.

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