Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, has appealed to residents of the state not to allow agents of fake news and disinformation to mislead them and set them against one another.
The appeal was contained in a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Rafiu Ajakaye, which was made available on Tuesday.
In the statement titled, ‘Our stand on Hijab based on law, respect for pluralism’, the governor said Hijab was permissible for every Muslim female student, who desired to wear it with their school uniform.
He explained that Kwara State was a plural society whose diversity and maintenance of peaceful coexistence, as the southernmost northern state, were its most unique selling points.
The statement read in part, “The governor, therefore, condemns the reckless attempts by some fifth columnists to polarise our state along religious lines, using the settled question of Hijab in public schools as a smokescreen to advance their evil intent.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the governor maintains the earlier position of the state government on the question of Hijab as follows:
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“Based on subsisting court judgments, which were built on the constitution, federal and state laws, principle of pluralism, and the sanctity of the right of every person to their identity, especially in public space, the use of Hijab in public schools is a constitutional right that the government shall protect for anyone and everyone willing to use it.
“The government’s strategic patience in the handling of delicate matters involving the people it swore to protect is not the same as pandering to anyone’s whims.
“Consequently, the governor stands firmly by the government’s policy on the permissibility of Hijab for every Muslim girl child, who desires to wear it in all public schools.
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“The governor appeals to the people of the state to not allow agents of fake news and disinformation to mislead them and set them against one another. This administration is beholden only to the law, truth and fairness to all at all times.”
Meanwhile, a pro-democracy group, Kwara Must Change, has called on both Christian and Muslims to desist from antagonism and mutual suspicion that could lead to violence and meaningless loss of lives and properties over the issue of Hijab.
The group in a statement signed by its convener, Abdulrazaq Hamzat, said both parties should understand that the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was above any religion, and the government must be allowed to manage the current disagreement in the interest of peace and unity.
Hamzat explained that while the issue of Hijab was strictly a human right and constitutional issue, which had been subjected to judicial interpretation in favour of Muslims, the Muslims should not add petrol to fire under the guise of agitating for rights.
“Muslim should not take the law into their own hands by heating up the polity with threatening statements and imposing an atmosphere of disorder, while seeking the implementation of a judgment. They should instead cooperate with the government to do its job. Only the government can address the issue properly and they should be given all necessary cooperation to do so,” Hamzat stated.
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According to him, everyone should direct their complaints or observations to the government in a civilised manner through proper communication, instead of attacking each other in the public space through inflammatory statements that could instigate the public.
Earlier, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, set up a seven-member committee to investigate the circumstances that led to the recent violence on the wearing of Hijab at Oyun Baptist High School Ijagbo in Oyun local government area of the state.
The violence which allegedly occurred at the gate of the school between Muslim and Christian adherents reportedly led to the death of one person while 11 others sustained various degree of injury.
Rafiu Ajakaye in a statement said that the chairman of the committee is the pioneer Provost of Kwara State College of Health Technology and currently a Director at the National Open University of Nigeria, Shehu Omoniyi, while the co-chairman of the panel is the Secretary General of Ijagbo Descendants Progressive Union, Emmanuel Fatola.
Other members of the panel include Christian and Islam patriarchs and matriarchs.
The statement charged the panel to establish the roles of every person involved, and recommend to the state government what steps to be taken to avoid a reoccurrence in the future.
“The panel will invite and listen to all the parties (including leadership of the school), establish the truth of what happened and the roles of various persons involved, and make recommendations to the government on how to prevent such unfortunate situation in the future,” the statement said.
It added, “The committee has three weeks (counting from the first day of sitting) to submit its report to the government.”
The government urged the people of the community and every party involved in the Hijab issue to cooperate with the committee and give peace a chance.
Also, the Ijagbo Community in Oyun local government area of Kwara state has urged external forces feasting on the school uniform crisis in Ijagbo Baptist High School, to allow peaceful resolution of the matters leading to the unfortunate crisis.
Stakeholders in Ijagbo community recently held an expansive meeting on development in the school and some far-reaching decisions were arrived at after the meeting.
A communique containing the resolutions at the meeting was issued by the National Secretary and National Public Relations Officer, of Ijagbo Descendants Union (IDU), Mr Emmanuel Fatola and Mr Wole Alawode respectively in Ilorin at the weekend.
The communique reads among others,”We advise external forces feasting on the school uniform crisis to allow peaceful resolution of the matters leading to the unfortunate crisis.
“We also urge all indigenes and residents of the town, Christians and Muslims, to continue to live in peace and refuse to allow divisions within a united and progressive family.”
The community which condemned the violence and loss of life at the school on Thursday, February 3, 2022 noted that” Ijagbo people are one and will not be divided by religious misunderstandings.”
The Community reiterates that “peaceful coexistence is historical and legendary among people of different religious persuasions in Ijagbo town.
“We note that members of the same families, and even siblings, from the same parents belong to different religions without this adversely affecting their family relationships.”
The Ijagbo community also commended efforts of the government of Kwara State government, ” in maintaining peace in the state and pray for divine wisdom for the government to quickly and permanently resolve all issues relating to the delicate balancing of religious interests.”