Mr. Abdulrazaq’s decision “appears to be a contempt of the court because the Governor is aware that there is a pending court case on this matter over which the court had earlier ruled that the status quo should be maintained,” CAN representatives say in the statement signed by their General Secretary, Joseph Daramola.
“The Governor of Kwara State has shown an open bias for one religion with his inability to wait for the court processes to be concluded over this matter,” the Christian leaders of the 45-year-old entity who include representatives from the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN) add.
They decry “how some people took the laws into their hands in the State by going from school to school to enforce the wearing of hijab in secondary schools, including the schools owned by mission agents but are only granted aid by the government.”
“Instead of the government to caution such trouble makers and admonish them to wait for the court process to be concluded and judgement delivered, the government of Kwara State has shown its religious bias by the blanket approval of the wearing of the hijab, even in Christian Mission Schools,” they emphasize.
The Christian leaders who comprise the largest ecumenical body in the West African nation further note that the decision by the leadership of Kwara State “is not only discriminatory and divisive,” but one that “equally suggests that the government was the one behind the earlier illegal enforcement of the wearing of hijab in Christian schools.”
They remind the State government that while it has the authority to give directives to public schools, “it ought to respect the schools it does not directly own, nor started and respect the religious cultures of such schools as well.”
“We urge the political elites to stop using their religious overzealousness in causing division in the society, but rather treat all equally irrespective of religious and ethnic affiliation,” they say in their March 9 statement and add, “If we would all pilgrimage together, there must be fairness to all, mutual respect and justice.”
The hijab controversy in Kwara State dates back to the year 2012 when the owners of the mission schools asked the local government to reinstate mission institutions that the State took over in 1974 under the program of “Government’s grant in aid to schools.”
However, the State’s leadership did not reinstate the ownership of the schools, a move that saw various Christian groups, among them CAN that had sponsored the institutions, sue the local government.
Kwara Muslim Community, which has been at loggerheads with the leadership of mission schools over failure to allow the hijab applied to be enjoined in the suit.