Hijab Controversy Rocks Kwara School

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By Wole Adedeji, Ilorin

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A seven-person committee set up to look into the recent bloody clash in the Oyun Baptist High School, Ijagbo in Kwara has been told that Christian body in the community are opposed to wearing of hijabs in the mission school.

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The Committee set up by the Kwara State Government to investigate the circumstances that led to the January 19, 2022 violence in the school has commenced its sitting in Ilorin, the state capital.

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The first witness before the panel was the Principal, Mr. Francis Lambe who disclosed that the school has a population ratio of 47% Muslims and 53% Christians and that government gave a directive that willing Muslim girls could wear hijabs in the school like others in the state.

He further disclosed that the refusal of the Christian body in Ijagbo had generated disagreements among the parents of both faiths which he laboured hard to resolve with no meaningful positive results.

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He however was of the opinion that wearing of hijabs in the school does not have any negative effect on the atmosphere of the school particularly, learning.

He further told the panel that several meetings he held with some stakeholders in the school to allow peace to reign in the school over the matter did not yield results.

The principal pleaded before the panel that since government picks the bills of running the school particularly, in the areas of paying teachers’ salaries urging that the stakeholders should allow government policies to stand in the school as is the case in other public schools.

He lamented that the continuous closure of the school over the hijabs issue is capable of making the total number of 151 SS3 students already registered by the school for this year’s West African School Certificate examinations might lose out.

His words: “What I will recommend to the government is to invite the CAN and the concerned Muslim stakeholders and let them understand that policy is policy and pacify the two sides. Now, our school is closed. We have our SS3 students; about 151 students ready to write WAEC”.

At the inaugural sitting, Chairman of the panel, Dr Shehu Omoniyi explained that the panel was not to witch-hunt anyone but to assess critically what happened, how it happened, and make specific recommendations to the government to prevent a reoccurrence.

“This panel is not meant to witch-hunt anybody. We are to assess critically what happened, how it happened those that were involved and make specific recommendations.

“I urge people to calm down and cooperate with us. If you are invited, speak the truth and nothing but the truth. There’s no need to mislead the panel. Because we want to work with the fear of God and I hope at the end of the day all sides will be happy with our recommendations”, he had said.

Dr Omoniyi called for religious tolerance and understanding for a peaceful co-existence among the people.

The Co-Chairman of the panel Mr. Emmanuel Adebayo Fatola who is the Secretary General of Ijagbo Descendants Progressives Union.

Other members are Pastor (Dr) Modupe Oreyemi Agboola; Kwara State Chairperson of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) Dr Saudat Baki; Special Assistant to the Governor on Religion (Islam) Alhaji Ibrahim Zubair Danmaigoro; Special Assistant to the Governor on Religion (Christianity) Reverend Timothy Akangbe; and a director in the Ministry of Justice, Ishola Olofere serving as the Secretary.

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