There seems to be no let up on the issue of hijab recently approved by the Kwara state government for female Muslim students in public schools in the state, particularly the grant-aided Christian Mission Schools, as the leadership of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) has vowed not to welcome the directive in all its schools in the state.
Aside being an infringement on their freedom of religion, they said “we are saying that we refuse the enforcement of hijab on our pupils and students by the state government, knowing full well that our schools are Church heritage and we shall use every licit means to protect it. We promise to defend our faith and protect our properties with the whole of our strength and might.”
Speaking with journalists in Ilorin, the state capital, on Friday, the Chairman, ECWA Ilorin District Church Council, Reverend Dr. John Owoeye, said that ECWA schools were established by the Christian missionaries for purposes of reaching communities with the love of Christ and to meet educational needs of the indigenes irrespective of religious affiliations, among other reasons.
The ECWA Church leaders, who demanded return of ECWA schools to them, said that since 1974 when there was an agreement on collaboration between the state government and the proprietors of the grant-aided mission schools, “the policy has never been total take-over of our schools by the government”, adding “we are constantly adding to the sweat of our missionary founding fathers who established the schools by putting in hundreds of thousands of Naira in refurbishing our schools from time to time.”
Rev. Owoeye said that Christians are bonafide citizens of the state, and they have equal right under the provisional constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, adding that “by this pronouncement and plan of the state government, we can affirm that the government is saying one religion is more important and superior to others, thereby promoting religious inequality among Kwarans.”
He argued that the government is aware that Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK) teachers are not posted to Muslim grant-aided schools and that the gathering of Fellowship of Christian Students (FCS) are not allowed in Muslim grant-aided schools.
“Similarly, we want the government to be informed that her decision and plan to provide hijab and enforce its use in our Christian mission grant-aided schools will not be tolerated as it is an infringement on our freedom of religion has enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria.”