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Anglican Bishops decry Kwara’s forceful implementation of hijab in grant-aided mission schools

Emmanuel Kehinde, Ilorin

Access Bank
Bishops of the Dioceses in Kwara Province of the Anglican Church have decried the forceful introduction of hijab to the uniforms of Christian mission schools in Kwara state by the state government, describing the action as illegal, unconstitutional and undue distraction from the needed focus which could help raise the standard of education in the state.
The Bishops, who stated this at their Provincial Council meeting in Ilorin presided over by the Most Revd. (Barr.) Israel Amoo, the Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Kwara, also condemned the recent fracas which reportedly claimed a live, while scores were seriously injured, at the Oyun Baptist High School, Ijagbo over non-admittance of hijab-wearing female Muslim students into the premises of the school.
They, therefore, enjoined Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq to follow the example of Oyo state Governor Seyi Makinde on the hijab usage policy adopted in their schools which has guaranteed peace and harmonious coexistence in Oyo state so as to also give peace a chance in Kwara state.
It would be recalled that the policy adopted by Oyo state government stated that in Muslim faith-based public schools, the usage or wearing of hijab as part of the school uniform is allowed in accordance with Islamic tradition and religious belief of student who may wish to do so, while In Christian faith-based public schools, the student’s uniform should be in line with established tradition of the school and Christian religion.
While commiserating with the families of the deceased person and those injured during the unfortunate incident, the Bishops said: “As a matter of fact, in Kwara state, such schools as Oyun Baptist High School, Ijagbo, exist as Christian mission schools for the education of Christian children and to also inculcate the virtues and character fitting for Christian children and adolescents,” adding that “the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) guarantees every citizen the freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change one’s religion or belief as desired, and freedom to manifest and propagate one’s religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.”
The uniforms/dress codes prescribed for schools, they argued, are reflections of religious tenets and beliefs, saying “any attempt by any government, body, organisation or individual to alter or adulterate such uniforms would amount to blatant infringement on the fundamental rights of the pupils and children, and is capable of creating confusion in their young minds.
Aligning with the position of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and other Christian faithful in the state, the Bishops called on the state government to return all grant-aided Christian mission schools to their original owners, saying “the Christian schools are our heritage bequeathed to us by our forefathers in the faith. It is therefore resolved that we as Christians will employ all legitimate means to defend such heritage without any fear or fretting, we refuse to succumb to any threat, intimidation or manipulation on this cause.”
For peace to reign in the state, the clergymen urged the state government to allow Christians attend Christian schools and Muslims to attend Muslim schools, adding that any Christian who elects to attend Muslim schools should be ready to comply with Islamic injunctions, while any Muslim who also chooses to attend Christian schools should comply with Christian ethics.
“We resolved to reiterate, restate and repeat our appeal for the unconditional return of all Christian schools in Kwara State to their original owners as a lasting solution to this problem, which is now assuming a terrifying and alarming magnitude,” they admonished.
 Urged AbdulRazaq the governor to
use his good offices to restore normalcy to schools in the state and reverse the government order permitting the use of hijab in Christian mission schools for the sake of peace and good neighbourliness.
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