▪︎ You’re not above the law, Muslim students fire back, say no students will be molested again
By sideeq Oyeniyi
As the public schools formerly owned by Christian missionaries in Ilorin metropolis prepare to reopen on Monday, March 8, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and another Christian group, the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) have vowed to resisit the resolution of the Kwara State Government.
The Christian groups said they would not allow Hijab (headcover) in the schools, while inciting Christian faithful to occupy the premises of the affected schools on Monday.
it had been earlier reported how the management of the schools forcefully yanked off Hijab from the head of Muslim female students, leading to protest and eventual closure of the schools by the Kwara State government.
The Kwara State government later constituted a committee to look into the matter to avert a major religious crisis in the state.
Announcing its position after sittings by the committee led by the State’s Deputy Governor, a Christian, which comprised of leaders from both religious groups, the Kwara State Government upheld the use of Hijab which it said was in line with the law.
In what appears a bold contempt for the constituted authority, CAN organised a press briefing where it posited that it would not allow students to don the Hijab, regardless of the government’s directive.
According to the body, the use of Hijab in the grant-aided schools “will cause discrimination and allow terrorists to easily identify our children and wards.”
In its own separate press conference, ECWA said ECWA schools were established by Christian missionaries for purposes of reaching communities with the love of Christ and to meet educational needs of the indigenes irrespective of religious affiliations, among other reasons.
The Christian group furthered it that would not allow the use of Hijab in its 38 schools across the state, adding that the government was wrongly advised in taking the decision.
“What we are saying is that no one, whether the Kwara State Government or even the Federal Government, can force hijab on our children or in our schools. We shall not hesitate to use all legitimate means to protect our heritage. We will defend our faith and protect our property,” ECWA vowed.
Muslim bodies react...
Reacting to these statements, the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Kwara State Chapter posited that CAN is not above the law of the land that allowed the use of Hijab in schools.
The Islamic body promised to ensure compliance of the law, while noting that it will never again allow the molestation of Muslim students on the basis of the Hijab.
In a statement signed by Nurudeen Ibrahim and Ismail Olanrewaju, Amir and Secretary-General respectively, MSSN warned CAN and its co-travellers to stop fanning the embers of war and confusion through their unguarded utterances capable of throwing Kwara State into chaos.
“The “grand proprietor” of all publicly financed schools in Kwara State has spoken. The Court of Appeal had earlier ruled in favour of our Muslim girls in 2019. Even some faith-based private denomination schools allow Muslim girls in their domain to put on the Hijab. What is the fuss now all about?” MSSN wrote in the statement.
“As the umbrella body of all Muslim Students in the state, we unequivocally posit without mincing words that any attempt to thwart justice would not only be vehemently met with the utmost civility but also the stern opposition it deserves. In lieu of this, we are keenly watching and patiently waiting for any mischief maker to deny our Muslim females the use of the hijab after the state government had made the pronouncement.
The Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU) also condemned CAN for its position, noting that their planned protest over Hijab in the ancient city of Alimi is a joke taken too far.
In a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Abubakar Imam, on behalf of the Union’s National President, Alhaji Aliyu Otta Uthman, fsi, IEDPU described the planned protest as “unnecessary display of ignorance laced with arrogance and ethnocentrism by those who are out to perpetuate tyranny and injustice.”
The Union urged those who are not comfortable with the position of the Kwara State Government to forward their grievances to the appropriate organs of government instead of resorting to illegality or self help, warning that any form of protest at this point in time could be hijacked by hoodlums and consequently turned into violence.
Meanwhile, IEDPU asserted that the decision of the government on the matter was not at variance with common sense, the provision of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria and the universally applauded judgement of the Court of Appeal.
IEDPU enjoined the Kwara State Government not to allow any group, no matter how highly placed to disturb the peace of the state in the face of other security tensions.