Despite government directive, Christian leaders of the Baptist Conference and Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) have insisted that they will not allow the use of the Muslim religious veil, otherwise known as hijab, in missionary schools in Kwara State.
The Christian groups made this known in different press conferences to address the directive of the Kwara State government that granted approval for the use of hijab by Muslim students in missionary schools.
Victor Dada, president of Kwara Baptist Conference, while addressing journalists in Ilorin, the state capital, on Thursday, said government acted in contempt of the court.
According to Dada, there was a pending lawsuit before the Supreme Court over the matter which the government ignored.
“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 will lead to an avalanche of reactions, the end of which no one can predict.
“By this move, the state government is saying the Muslims purported rights are superior to that of the Christians,” Dada said.
Dada noted that neither Kwara State government nor the federal government could force the use of hijab in missionary schools.
“We are all bona fide Kwarans and we all have equal rights under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. By this move, Kwara State Government is saying the Muslims purported right is superior to that of the Christians,” Dada added.
Holding a similar position, John Owoeye, chairman, ECWA Ilorin District Church Council, said the government’s position on the matter would “not be tolerated.”
Owoeye said this in a separate press conference held on Friday in Ilorin, stating that it was an infringement on the freedom of religion as guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution.
“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 licit means to protect it. We promise to defend our faith and property with the whole of our strength and might,” Owoeye said.
Reacting to the insistence of the Christian groups, Rafiu Ajakaye, chief press secretary to Kwara State governor, told The International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) that the government was standing on its position about the matter.
“Apart from our earlier position, we do not have any other thing to say about it. All we are calling for is calm,” Ajakaye told The ICIR in a telephone interview.