Kwara Hijab Crisis: Unlawful For A Nigerian State To Adopt Any Religion, Adegboruwa Says

A human rights lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa has condemned the Kwara State Government for allegedly forcing use of hijabs in missionary schools in the state.

He berated Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq for involving the education of the state in religious matters, which he described as degrading.

Adegboruwa made this known in an opinion he made available to SaharaReporters on Tuesday.

He argued that Nigeria is a secular nation and it is unlawful for states as the federating units to adopt a specific religion for their residents.

The controversy had trailed the introduction of hijabs into public schools in the state which degenerated into violence at Baptist Secondary School, Ilorin, last Wednesday.

The school was one of the 10 shut down in February by the state government over the controversy and reopened only on Wednesday.

The state government had intervened and ordered the closure of the schools to forestall violent clashes by Christian and Muslim groups.

However, last Tuesday, it announced that the schools had been told to reopen but must respect its policy that allows the use of the hijab in all public schools.

“The government is convinced that its policy to allow willing Muslim schoolgirls to wear their hijab in public schools will lead to sustainable peace and communal harmony anchored on mutual respect and understanding,” the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, Kemi Adeosun, said on Tuesday night while announcing the reopening of the schools.

Reacting, Adegboruwa said, “Is the governor not aware that Nigeria runs a secular state and no government is expected to dabble into religious matters, to support one group against the other? In the course of last week, I watched a very disturbing video, of some persons, who assembled opposite what looked like a big cathedral, from where they were hauling stones and other dangerous objects, into the compound of the church, with the security standing and watching them, helplessly. Why should this happen?”

He also stated further how religious places such as churches have rendered free services to people in the state, and bemoaned how the government has caused enmity between the two religions through its biased policies.

“Over the years, some of these worship centres grew in leaps and bounds and they were handed over upon independence, to the local members, to further their legitimate objectives. As part of their corporate social responsibility, some of these churches established schools, hospitals and even justice centres, where the indigent and needy can have access to social services.

“In the case of my own church, a maternity was established right in the compound of the church and it admits RCCG church members, Christians from other denominations, Muslims, traditionalists and even atheists, who daily patronise it, for delivery of their babies, at little or no cost. After all, the unborn baby in the womb has no religion yet and cannot be the subject of discrimination on account of the religion of the parents.

“These churches exist all over Nigeria, in Kwara State in particular. I have since confirmed that Kwara State is neither a Christian nor a Muslim State, for the government of that state to seek to take up arms in favour of or against any particular religion. In any case, Section 10 of the Constitution clearly prohibits any state in Nigeria from adopting any particular religion as state religion.”

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