Hours after Kwara State Government reopened 10 secondary schools shut over face-off on usage of hijaab (Muslim headscarf), religious groups in the state have resorted to violence in an apparent rejection of the government decision.
As gathered, no fewer than 20 persons, including four pastors, were said to have been injured when the opposing religious adherents, particularly Muslims and Christians engaged in fisticuffs with each group attacking its opponents with different objects on Wednesday after the government’s directive.
It was learnt that while Muslim faithful was at home with the government’s decision, Christian adherents rejected the directive in its totality claiming the move was targeted at putting its followers at disadvantaged point in the scheme of things across the state.
The tensed situation grew worse as angry Christian and Muslim faithful threw various objects including stones and plastic chairs at themselves as shown in several video clips online.
It was gathered that both warring groups engaged themselves in war of words that degenerated into throwing stones at themselves over schools’ resumption, thereby injuring many people.
Many people were seen with blood on their heads as they sustained injuries from stones thrown at them. The incident, it was learnt, happened at Baptist Secondary school, Surulere, and ECWA School, Oja Iya, both in the Ilorin metropolis.
The security operatives close to the school had to call for reinforcement to calm the situation. The operatives dispersed the warring group with tear gas.
Reacting to the incident, the President, Kwara Baptist Conference, Dr Victor Dada, said that more than 20 Christians, including four Pastors, were wounded with three hospitalized.
According to him, Christians who were today at First Baptist Church Surulere, Ilorin on peaceful demonstration with drums and trumpets came under serious attack by Muslim fundamentalists who mobilized themselves and touts in large number to attack us.
Through a statement released to journalists on Wednesday in Ilorin, Dada alleged that the attackers overpowered police, forcefully removed the gate and signboard of the school, and started stoning people on sight. .
“Only the gallant resistance of members and eventual security reinforcements saved the church from been burnt. The fundamentalist in the presence of security officials vehemently attempted to burn the Church and when repelled threatened to burn the Church either during the day or at night.
“They threw petrol fire to the Church gate and vandalized the auditorium. They also went ahead to vandalize The Apostolic Church, Eruda Ilorin, a Church without any Grant Aided School. It is surprising that the government has become a government of the Muslim by the Muslim for the Muslim in his policies, pronouncements, and attitude.
“We wish to restate our stand that our schools are grant-aided schools and not public schools. At no time since the grant aiding policy started in 1974 has any government design uniforms for schools. This has always been the responsibility of the proprietors, be it community or mission. It should be noted that Christians have always complied with Islamic guidelines in grant-aided Muslim schools as Muslims do not allow any Christian practice in their schools.
“The Muslim and government should not take our gentleness for weakness. The government has not employed Christian Religion Knowledge in the last fifteen years but kept employing and posting Imam and Islamic religious teachers in large numbers (even in Mission Schools). We shall not allow Hijab in our schools. We will defend our faith and defend our inheritance. We demand that the government should return back our schools,” the statement said.