By Ahmed Ajikobi
The hijab crisis rocking the Kwara state Muslim and Christian communities took another twist last week following the destruction of a mosque located inside Bishop Smith Junior Secondary School, Ilorin.
The mosque, it was gathered, was reportedly reduced to rubbles overnight when the Muslim students had left for their various homes after the close of school.
Towards this end, the national president of the Ilorin Emirate Descendants Progressive Union (IEDPU), Alhaji Aliyu Otta Othman at a Press Conference in Ilorin on Saturday held at its secretariat called for investigation into the matter.
The IEDPU which further accused the Christians of further destroying other mosques in Anthony Secondary School called on the government and law enforcement agencies to investigate the matter and bring the culprits to book.
According to him, President Muhammadu Buhari should prevail on the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to all allow the unique harmonious coexistence and peace for which the people of Ilorin are well known to subsist.
He said “We have noted with grave concern the threat of violence by some of the demonstrators. If such individuals could resist a legitimately issued directive of the constituted authorities and take laws unto their hands, one gets more worried about the safety of lives and property.
“Hijab is being worn in public places and educational institutions in Lagos, Oyo, Osun and even UK, France and other western countries from which those churches originated. Christianity does not abhor proper covering of the female head. Why are students prevented from pursuing their learning just because they prefer to dress properly and decently”, he added.
The IEDPU national president while noting that these are trying times for Ilorin Emirate reiterated that as the host community, the union will continue to pursue and explore all avenues of dialogue to arrive at a lasting peace over the matter and thanked the state government, security agencies and other stakeholders for their efforts so far on the issue.
He appealed to politicians across all divides and their supporters to avoid politicization of the issue, he submitted.
Efforts to reach the Kwara State Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Reverend Paul Olawoore was not successful last night as several calls put across to him were not answered.
But the Anglican Bishop, Sunday Adewole, while speaking to National Pilot refuted the allegation adding and called for lasting solution in resolving the issue.
Meanwhile, the Kwara State Police Command, last week, debunked alleged reports of churches set ablaze in Ilorin during last week protest over the matter.
A statement by the spokesman of the Command, Okasanmi Ajayi in Ilorin, also denied claims by some national dailies that shops were looted and business offices vandalized by protesters in the Ilorin metropolis adding that not single church was razed.
“The command wishes to debunk the story in its entirety, no single church was burnt, no shop was looted, neither was any business facility closed down as a result of the hijab milieu,” the statement added.
According to the command, the announcement of the opening of mission schools, heralded the protests by the church proprietors who insisted that no female students with hijab, would be allowed entry and the attendant insistence by the Muslims, that the female students must be allowed to enter the schools in hijab.
The statement, however, explained that “All through this, the command deployed adequate policemen and other security agencies in all the schools and churches, while the protests which were restricted to the schools have been peaceful.
“Efforts by hoodlums to hijack the process was vehemently resisted by the police,” the statement further stated.
The state Police Commissioner, Mohammed Lawal Bagega, urged the newsmen to continue with their support as usual and verify their stories before going public.
The command also warned that criminals will be arrested and dealt with in accordance with the law.
By Ahmed Ajikobi