Hijab controversy: Violence erupts in Kwara as missionary schools reopen

VIOLENCE broke out on Wednesday in Kwara State after the state government ordered the reopening of 10 schools earlier shut over the controversy surrounding the use of Muslim headgear in missionary schools.

Viral video clips seen by The ICIR showed how residents in Ilorin threw stones and other items at each other after some students were disallowed from entering a missionary school against the order of  Kwara State government.

Late Tuesday evening, permanent secretary of Kwara State Ministry of Education Kemi Adeosun had announced the immediate reopening of the 10 schools which she said was earlier shut to “secure public peace”in the state.

According to Adeosun, the government stood by its decision that Muslim headgear, also known as hijab, could be worn by female students in all schools and in order not to miss too many academic activities, the schools were to be reopened effective Wednesday.

However, on Wednesday, some officials of  Saint Anthony Secondary School stopped some Muslim female students wearing hijab from gaining entrance into the school.

Confirming the incident to The ICIR, Okasanmi Ajayi, police public relations officer of the state command, said  government had decided on Tuesday to lift the suspension on the school and had communicated the reopening to the police.

However, he said that the violence broke out after some students were not allowed to gain access to the school premises before the intervention of the police.

“No one was injured and there was no death. We intervened and we have restored peace into the affected place,” Ajayi told The ICIR in a telephone interview.

    For over three weeks, 10 schools in the state have been closed due to the disagreement among school officials, the state government and parents of students in the state.

    The schools involved in the crisis 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, and St. Barnabas Secondary School Sabo Oke.
    Others include St. John School Maraba; St. Williams Secondary School Taiwo Isale, and St. James Secondary School Maraba.

    Hijab controversy: 10 schools to remain shut over protest in Kwara

    The state government said that its position was that use of hijab by female students should be allowed in all schools, but the missionary schools involved said it would not allow it.

    Contradicting the position of the government, the schools argued that there was a pending suit awaiting ruling before the Supreme Court on the ownership of the school and until the case was determined, the management of the school would only abide by its own stipulated laws and not the government’s.

    Lukman Abolade is an Investigative reporter with The ICIR. Reach out to him via [email protected], on twitter @AboladeLAA and FB @Correction94

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