The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ijagbo Chapter, Kwara State, has warned Governor AbdulRahaman AbdulRazaq against backing Muslims against Christians in the state.
In a lengthy statement sent to Naija News, the group warned the governor against forcing the wearing of hijabs on Christian mission schools.
The association stated that there was no time CAN Kwara State Chapter nor the Proprietors of Mission Schools agree to the use of hijab in any of the Mission Schools but same was forcefully imposed and implemented by the state government.
According to CAN, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State and Seyi Makinde of Oyo State have both refused to tamper with the codes that have guaranteed religious freedom and harmony in their state over time.
They accused Abdulrazak of issuing directives that goes against the rights of Christians because he is Muslim without consulting stakeholders as previous leaders have done.
While asking the Kwara State governor to reverse his directive, CAN warned that if the decision was not reverse it would lead to a crisis the state government won’t be able to contain.
They said the present administration is consciously or unconsciously promoting policy in favour of Muslims in Kwara State.
The Christian body recalled that under previous military government full scale consultations with the proprietors of the Grant-Aided Mission Schools were made, stressing that this is not the case with the so called democratic Governor.
“The Proprietors were not duly consulted nor carried along in the formulation of this religion biased policy as claimed in the hijab enforcement policy circular.
“Let the Government tell the whole world the CAN representatives who were there during the consultations and designing of hijab for Christian grant-aided schools.
“Christian Grant Aided Mission Schools were never taken over at any time.
“It is necessary to correct the notion that Christian Mission Schools have been taken over by the State Government,” they said.
CAN noted that the Constitution that made provisions for fundamental human rights also made provisions for limitations to those rights.
“There is freedom of movement yet, trespass is a crime. There is freedom of expression yet, hate speech is a crime. There is freedom of association yet associating with cult groups and terrorist organizations is a criminal offence.
“Right of a citizen ends where another citizens right start. The government of Kwara State must remember this as the Islamic Clerics and those in our own opinion seem to be above the government and are trying to force this government against its right sense of judgment,” the group said.
CAN called on the attention of the national and international communities to the clandestine moves of the Kwara State Government against the rights of the Proprietors of the Mission Schools, not only in Ijagbo, Oyun and Offa Local Government Areas, but also in Kwara State as a whole.
Narrating what transpired that led to crisis at the Oyun Baptist High School Ijagbo, CAN said: “In a most uncivilized manner, a group led by Islamic fundamentalists from Offa stormed Oyun Baptist High School Ijagbo few weeks after resumption in January, pretending to be parents and trying to enforce the use of hijab in the school with a circular that purportedly emanated from Kwara State Ministry of Education.
“The Proprietor of the school together with the Chief Imam of Ijagbo, the representatives of the fundamentalists from Offa, the DPO Ijagbo Divisional Police Headquarters, and the Director of DSS in Oyun Local Government Area met several times at the palace of the High Chief Olora of Ijagbo who is the representative of the Onijagbo of Ijagbo.
“In the meeting, it was resolved that the fundamentalists should stay away from the school, that the dress code of the school is sacrosanct and that the use of hijab by female students will not be allowed in the school. Prior to this, two different meetings had been held with the Chief Imam of Ijagbo in his residence with the CAN executives and representatives of the Baptist community. Another meeting was held with the Transitional Interim Committee Chairman of Oyun Local Government, Dr. Waheed Ibrahim in his office at the secretariat, Ilemona. We equally held series of meetings with the State Government representatives, the Commissioner for Education and Human Capital Development, Hajia Saadatu Modibbo Kawu; the Director, Kwara State Teaching service Commission; Commissioner for Local Government Affairs; S.A to the Governor on Islam; and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education all in attendance.
“In all these meetings, we made our position known to them as CAN and Proprietors of the School that the policy enforcing the use of Hijab in Christian Grant-Aided Mission Schools be rescinded or they return the school to the Proprietor. All our submissions fell on deaf ears.
“On 2nd February, 2022 the fundamentalists went to Ilorin to protest at the Teaching Service Commission, Ministry of Education, Government House and Emir of Ilorins Palace, demanding the forceful implementation of the use of hijab in Grant-Aided Mission Schools especially OBHS Ijagbo. They came back to Ijagbo that same day chanting NO HIJAB NO SCHOOL IN OBHS IJAGBO, OBHS IJAGBO WILL BE SHUT DOWN FOREVER, And ITS TIME FOR JIHAD. That same night, we were reliably informed that some group of persons suspected to be Muslims had mobilized and were ready to destabilize the academic session of OBHS, Ijagbo. As early as 6am, the Ijagbo CAN Chairman called the Chief Imam of Ijagbo on the planned invasion of the school by the fundamentalists and asked him to caution them and await the outcome of the meeting called by the State Government scheduled to hold by 11am same day.
“Unfortunately, around 6:30am, without any provocation, the jihadists started shouting “No Hijab no school” as they marched in batches to the school. Few of them were from Ijagbo, most of them were mercenaries from Offa, Ilorin and a number of them were from Osun State. This is to let the public know how calculated, organized and pre-meditated the attack was.
“The fundamentalists besieged the School gate, sending the OBHS students back home. When we challenged them, they attacked us with all sorts of weapons. Their plan was to gain access to the school premises and vandalize the structures which have just been renovated by the Old Students Association of the school in preparation for the 50th Anniversary celebration. They kidnapped three of our people, took them to the rail line, tied their hands and legs, tortured them cruelly and threatened to slaughter them. It took the efforts of the alerted security agents on ground to rescue them.”
The group said it is wicked, ungodly and unfair to tell lies to the general public about what happened on the 3rd of February, 2022 just to get public sympathy and cheaply indict the Christian community.
CAN asked the Kwara State Government to unveil and prosecute those causing public unrest in the name of hijab enforcement and to expose the sponsors of these jihadists and make them face the full wrath of the law.
They also maintained that the school is their property and a symbol of the Christian religion, asking the Kwara State Government to respect their fundamental human right to religion as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, by not imposing the use of hijab on the schools.
They also called for the immediate and unconditional reopening of the school so that children (both Christian and Muslim) will not suffer the consequences of the closure any further.