Hijab Controversy: CAN accuses Kwara governor of bias against Christians

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Kwara State has accused Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of bias against Christians in respect of his government’s approval of the use of Hijab in grant-aided mission schools.

The religious group, in a statement signed by its General Secretary, Joseph Daramola, asked Mr AbdulRazaq to immediately withdraw the approval.

“This advice is necessary because we see the action of the governor of the state as premature and equally prejudicial,” Mr Daramola said.

The state government shut 10 grant-aided schools on February 19 as the controversy surrounding the use of hijab blew into a crisis in the schools.

After a committee is asked to decide the way forward submitted its report, the government said that students should be allowed to use the hijab in all public schools in the state.

The affected schools are Cherubim and Seraphim (C&S) College, Sabo-Oke, St, Anthony’s Secondary School, Offa Road, ECWA School, Oja-Iya, Surulere Baptist Secondary School and Baptist Smith Secondary School, Agba Dam.

Others are CAC Secondary School, Asa Dam Road, St. Barnabas Secondary School, Sabo-Oke, John School, Maraba, St. Williams Secondary School, Taiwo-Isale and St. James Secondary School, Maraba.

The schools were scheduled to reopen on Monday, but the government reversed the decision and asked them to remain shut indefinitely, citing safety reasons owing to the opposition of the Christian leaders.

Alleged contempt

The CAN Secretary said the approval by the state government for use of the hijab appears to be a contempt of the court because the suit challenging the government’s ownership of the schools is yet to be decided by the Supreme Court.

“Is the governor now saying that he is above the law? What is going to spoil if we all wait for the court to pronounce judgement on the matter? Why this hasty action?”

Also, Mr Daramola described the action of the government as being ‘discriminatory’ and ‘divisive’, adding that it suggests that the “government was the one behind the earlier illegal enforcement of the wearing of hijab in Christian schools.

“While the government may give directive on its schools, it ought to respect the schools it does not directly own or started and respect the religious cultures of such schools as well. “No political leader should use his or her position to further the cause of any particular religion or ethnic group for peace to prevail. The Governor of Kwara State has shown an  open bias for one religion with his inability to wait for the court process to be concluded over this matter.”

Mr Daramola said CAN has resolved to use all lawful means to reverse the order if the government refuses to withdraw it.

The military government, in the 1970s, took over these schools from the missions that founded them.

These schools, now grant-aided, had their names changed afterwards but some, like those in Kwara, retained their names.

The Christian missions in Kwara State had twice challenged the government’s ownership of the schools in court but lost at the high and appellate courts.

Undaunted, the missions comprising different Christian denominations, have appealed to the Supreme Court. 

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