Violence erupted on Wednesday in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital after the state government reopened 10 schools shut last month over the use of hijab by Muslim female students.
Christians and Muslims not pleased with the reopening clashed at Baptist Secondary School as they pelted each other with stones.
Residents alleged that the Muslims were angry over the refusal by Christian leaders to allow the usage of hijab in their schools.
The situation grew worse as angry Christian and Muslim faithful threw various objects, including stones and plastic chairs at each other with security operatives struggling to control the situation.
Western Post had reported that the reopening of the 10 schools was announced on Tuesday night by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development, Kemi Adeosun, through a statement.
The statement had said: ”The closure of the schools became necessary to forestall security breaches which may affect lives and properties.
”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.
”This path to mutual respect, understanding and peace with regards to hijab had long been adopted in northern Nigeria and many states in the Southwest such as Lagos, Osun, Ekiti and Oyo states.”
The 10 schools were closed on Feb. 19 over dispute in the usage of hijab in some of the schools.
The affected schools included C&S College, Sabo-Oke, St. Anthony’s Secondary school, Offa Road, ECWA School, Oja Iya, Surulere Baptist Secondary School and Bishop Smith Secondary School, Agba Dam.
The others are CAC Secondary School, Asa Dam road, St. Barnabas Secondary School, Sabo-Oke, St. John School Maraba, St. Williams Secondary School, Taiwo Isale, and St. James Secondary School, Maraba.
The government set up a committee to find a solution to the dispute and it was later announced that the schools will resume on March 8 with willing female students allowed to use hijab.
The government, however, rescinded its decision to reopen the schools over safety concerns as the Christians were not willing to accept the government’s verdict.
This led to the continuous closure of the schools.
The statement added that students preparing for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WAEC) would hold at least two-hour extra lessons to make up for the closed period.
”As the students resume normal classes, the government took special notice of the plight of those of them preparing for WAEC and hereby directs affected schools to hold at least two-hour extra lesson for all the intending candidates after school hours daily.
”The government will provide light lunch for the students until the beginning of their exams while teachers allotted for the extra coaching will get stipends for their efforts.
”This is to bring the students in line ahead of the impending external examination,” the statement read.
The government commended the Christian and Muslim leaders for their understandings and their efforts to build peace within their respective communities in the past weeks.
”It urges everyone to join hands with the government to raise a generation of school children who will respect one another’s differences and together build a sustainable future for our state.
”The government reminds all its employees such as school principals and teachers in the affected schools to take special note of the policy.
”There will be zero tolerance for violations of anyone’s fundamental human rights under their watch,” the statement warned.