The Bishops of the Dioceses in Kwara Ecclesiastical Province of the Anglican Church on Sunday called on Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara State to follow the example of Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State on the hijab usage policy adopted in schools so as to give peace a chance in the state.
The 8 bishops in the province made the plea at the Kwara Provincial Council meeting even as they condemned the recent fracas occasioned by usage of Hijab by students of Oyun Baptist High School, Ijagbo, Kwara State.
The meeting was presided over by Most Revd. Barr. Israel Amoo, Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province of Kwara.
They commiserated with the families of the deceased person(s) and those injured during the incidence and prayed the good Lord to comfort and console them.
The bishops, therefore, noted that the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) in Sections 38-40 guarantees every citizen the freedom of thought, conscience
and religion, including freedom to change one’s religion or belief as desired, and freedom to manifest and propagate one’s religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
“Pursuant to the above constitutional provision, adherents of religions established schools to teach their children and wards as well as to propagate their faith and belief.”
They emphasized that school uniforms/dress codes prescribed for schools are reflections of religious tenets and beliefs; and that any attempt by any Government, body, organisation or individuals to alter or adulterate such uniforms amounts to blatant infringement on the fundamental rights of the pupils and children, and is capable of creating confusion in the minds of the younger ones.
They expressed displeasure on the forceful introduction of hijab to the uniforms of Christians schools in Kwara State, because it is illegal, unconstitutional and undue distraction from the needed focus which could help raise the standard of education in the state.
The bishops pointed out that they stand by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) as they demand for the return of all grant-aided mission schools in the state, which they described as “our heritage” in the faith.
The bishops statement reads further: “We as Christians will employ every legitimate means to defend such heritage without any fear or fretting, we refuse to succumb to any threat, intimidation or
manipulation on this course.
We resolved to plead with and appeal to the Government of Kwara state to allow Christians attend Christian schools and Muslim to attend Muslim schools and that any Christian who elects to attend Muslim schools should be ready to comply with Islamic injunctions, on the other hand,
any Muslim who elects to attend Christian schools should comply with Christian ethics.
The bishops refer Kwara State government to the policy adopted by Oyo state so as to guarantee peace and harmonious coexistence. The body quoted Oyo State policy as follow:
“(i) In Muslim named/faith-based public schools, the usage/wearing of hijab as part of the school uniform is allowed in accordance with Islamic tradition/religious belief of student who may wish to do so.
“(ii) In Christian named/faith-based public schools, the student’s uniform should be in line with established tradition of the school and Christian religion.
“(iii) In Community based public schools the usage/wearing of a common hijab/beret by female students is permissible. This is, however, optional for parents/students who wish to do so.
“(iv) Under No circumstance or guise should any student/parents, group, or body contravene the provisions in paragraphs i, ii, and iii above. Any contravention of these provisions would attract appropriate disciplinary sanctions including immediate expulsion of affected students from school.”
They further urged the Governor of Kwara State, Malam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq to
use his good offices to restore normalcy to schools in the state and reverse the order permitting
the use of hijab in Christian schools for the sake of peace and good neighbourliness.
Edited by Felix Ajide