Five persons were reportedly injured on Wednesday in a clash between some Muslim and Christian groups in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, over the use of hijab by Muslim pupils.
The clash followed the state government’s reopening of some grant-aided schools where the authorities opposed the use of hijab among the pupils.
It was gathered that both groups initially engaged in verbal attacks and eventually resorted to throwing stones at each other.
It was in the melee the five persons were injured with blood oozing from their heads.
The chaotic situation happened at Baptist Secondary School at Surulere, and ECWA School, Oja Iya, both in Ilorin.
The law enforcement agents who were drafted to the scenes to restore normalcy were said to have fired tear gas canisters to disperse the rampaging crowd.
The state government announced the reopening of the schools on Tuesday night, saying the peace talk on the matter would continue.
It argued that its policy of allowing female Muslim pupils to wear hijab in the grant-aided schools was aimed at entrenching peace and harmony.
Some Muslims groups who had laid siege to the main gate of Baptist Secondary School, chanting Laillah Illaha Lahu, Laillaha Illah lahu (There is no other god but Allah).
Efforts by the Muslims groups to have their children enter the affected schools were rebuffed by the Christians who were also at the main gate to enforce their “no hijab” policy.
The tense situation propelled the government to deploy security operatives in the affected schools.
The pupils and teachers who were willing to resume fled the area while the schools gate remain shut.
At Cherubim and Seraphim Grammar School, Sabo Oke, Christian leaders in their white robes staged a protest at the main entrance of the school and prevented pupils and their teachers from resumption.
The protesters wielded placards with inscriptions, such as: “O Toge, give us our schools back”; “No to hijab in Kwara”; “Kwara is not an Islamic state, Kwara is for all”; “Our schools is our heritage” and “We oppose hijab in our schools.”
The same scenario played out at Bishop Smith Grammar School on Agba Dam, GRA, Ilorin and St. Anthony’s College.
Reacting to the development, the Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, Mrs. Mary K. Adeosun said: “The government is convinced that its policy to allow willing Muslim schoolgirls to wear their hijab in public schools will lead to sustainable peace and communal harmony anchored on mutual respect and understanding.
“This path to mutual respect, understanding, and peace with regards to hijab had long been adopted in all of the northern Nigeria and many states in the Southwest, such as Lagos, Osun, Ekiti, and Oyo states…”
Also, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has urged the Federal Government and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to intervene in the ongoing violence over the hijab policy that has led to violence and bloodletting in Kwara State.
CAN said Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq should be held responsible for the ugly development the controversy had generated.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja by its General Secretary, Joseph Daramola, CAN said: “We learnt that the state government has ordered the reopening of the closed schools without resolving the crisis and, consequently, churches and mission schools are being vandalised with impunity by the hoodlums banking on the state government’s support in the pretext of enforcing the policy.
“Some innocent Christians are being violently abused and attacked under the watch of the governor who is playing the ostrich.
“The governor should be held responsible if the matter degenerates because it was his pronouncement on the issue of hijab wearing in violation of the court directive on the matter to maintain the status quo until the matter is finally resolved by the court that led to this trouble.”
CAN said wisdom should be applied in handling the matter.
The umbrella Christian body added: “If any damage is done to any church or anyone is injured on this matter, the governor of Kwara State will be held responsible…”