There was a clash between Muslim and Christian faithful on Wednesday in Ilorin after the Kwara State Government reopened 10 schools shut over hijab (Islamic headscarf) controversy.
It was learnt that students wearing hijab were disallowed from entering Baptist School, Surulere by some protesting Christians.
An eyewitness told our correspondent that this led to an altercation between the Muslims and Christians.
The altercation, the eyewitness said, eventually led to a clash that saw the Muslims and Christians throwing objects at themselves.
It was learnt that it took the intervention of security operatives to restore peace.
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.
Our correspondent gathered that both Muslim and Christian organisations had mobilised their members to monitor activities at the reopened schools on Wednesday.
It was also learnt that there was a protest at C&S College, Sabo Oke, Ilorin.
The protesters reportedly dressed in white garments and caps and peevented Muslim pupils from entering the school with their hijab.
The government shut the 10 schools on February 19, 2021, following a crisis on the wearing of Hijab by Muslim female students who are attending the schools.
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.
CAN said, “The body condemns the use of Hijab in Christian Missions Grant Aided Schools as this will cause discrimination in schools and allow terrorists to easily identify our children and wards.”
On Tuesday, the state government announced that the schools can be reopened on Wednesday, March 17, 2021.
A statement signed by Mrs Kemi Adeosun, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development said 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.”
The schools affected include 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 statement continued, “As the students resume normal classes, the government took special notice of the plight of those of them preparing for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination and hereby directs affected schools to hold at least two-hour extra lesson for all the intending candidates after school hours daily.
“The government will provide light lunch for the students until the beginning of their exams while teachers allotted for the extra coaching will get stipends for their efforts.
“This is to bring the students up to speed ahead of the impending external examination. The closure of the schools was necessary to forestall security breaches that may affect lives and properties.
“The government sincerely commends the Christian and Muslim leaders for their understandings and their efforts to build peace within their respective communities in the past weeks. It urges everyone to join hands with the government to raise a generation of schoolchildren who will respect one another’s differences and together build a sustainable future for our state.
“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.”