The Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union, an umbrella organisation for all indigenes of the five local government councils that make up the emirate, and the South West Baptist Conference have disagreed over the use of hijab by female Muslim students in the 10 mission schools recently shut down by the Kwara State Government.
While the union said that the hijab was part of the constitutional rights of female Muslims and should be allowed in the schools, the Baptist Conference asked the state government to wait for the Supreme Court’s verdict on the matter before making a pronouncement.
The President of the union, Aliyu Uthman, at a press conference in Ilorin on Saturday, explained that the union had initially chosen to be silent on the issue to allow the government resolve the complaints of some Christians on the matter.
He decried the threat of violence by some of the demonstrators.
“However, the recent actions by the founders of the acquired schools showed that the current agitation must have been masterminded by individuals or groups who do not wish the state well. Hijab for willing Muslim girls should not be the basis for the current crisis. To us, we do not see why Muslim pupils who are willing to put on the hijab along with their uniforms should be denied such a fundamental right to manifest their religious leaning in public schools as guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution.
But speaking on behalf of 13 presidents of the South West Baptist Conference at a press conference in Ilorin on Friday, the President of Ogun Baptist Conference, Rev Solomon Oyeniyi, urged the government to act in the interest of the state’s educational system.
Oyeniyi also condemned the alleged attack on churches in connection with the controversy.
He said, “For the sake of peace and an uninterrupted educational system, any Muslim parent who wants their child or children to wear hijab compulsorily should honourably transfer to Muslim established schools instead of causing mayhem in the mission schools.
“We have watched incredulously and painfully how some of our churches have been attacked and some of our brethren injured simply because they were asking for justice. We saw again on Monday, March 22, how some churches were attacked even while their gates were firmly locked. This shows that these are coordinated attacks on churches in Ilorin and the issue at hand is beyond wearing hijab in our schools. At least, the schools were not opened on that day.”