There is tension in Kwara State, as the Nigerian Baptist Conference and the Evangelical Church Winning All have told the state government that they would resist the wearing of the hijab (veil) in their schools by all legitimate means.
The Christian bodies also demanded the immediate return of their schools.
According to Vanguard, the churches stated these at various press conferences in Ilorin, the state capital, saying they were not consulted before the decisions were taken.
They stressed that the state government was ill-advised in approving blanket wearing of the hijab by female students in grant-aided mission schools in the state.
Recall that following the controversy that trailed the wearing of hijab in grant-aided mission schools, the state government, last week, approved the wearing of hijab by female pupils of the schools.
The President, Kwara Baptist Conference, Rev Victor Dada, said it had no fewer than 38 schools across the state.
He said, “The state government was ill-advised in taking that decision. The state even acted in contempt of court as the case is still pending before the highest court in the land — Supreme Court.
“We want to warn the government that the step it wants to take by approving the use of hijab for all public schools and grant-aided schools in the state will lead to an avalanche of reactions, the end of which no one can predict.
“By this move, the state government is saying the Moslems purported rights are superior to that of the Christians. What we are saying is that no one, not the Kwara State government or even the Federal Government, can force hijab on our children or in our schools.
“We shall not hesitate to use all legitimate means to protect our heritage. We will defend our faith and protect our property. Baptist family waits for further instructions. Given the foregoing, we request the return of all our schools back to us without further delay.”
Similarly, Chairman ECWA Ilorin District Church Council, Rev John Owoeye, said , “We demand the return of our schools to us in earnest. Also, we want the government to be informed that her decision and plan to provide hijab and enforce its use in our Christian mission grant-aided schools will not be tolerated.
“For us, it is an infringement on our freedom of religion as enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria. Moreover, we are saying that we refuse the enforcement of hijab on our pupils and students by the state government.
“Our schools are church heritage and we shall use every illicit means to protect it. We promise to defend our faith and property with the whole of our strength and might.”
SaharaReporters, New York