Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, the Emir of Ilorin and Chairman Kwara Council of Chiefs, has urged Muslims and Christians to embrace peace.
Mr. Sulu-Gambari appealed to the parties involved in the hijab controversy in Ilorin on Wednesday in a statement by his spokesman, AbdulAzeez Arowona.
Mr. Sulu-Gambari advised Muslims and Christians to continue to live in peace and harmony with one another for stability and prosperity to reign supreme in the state.
According to the statement, the royal father described the controversy over hijab (Muslim female headgear) by female students of 10 government grant-aided schools as unwarranted.
“No group or individual should take laws into their hands. Ilorin is known for peaceful co-existence nationwide. Let us remain calm and resolute to the fact that the position of law is clear on the matter.
“There is no fight between Muslims and Christians. Let us avoid religious crisis of any kind. Islam and Christianity preach peace and harmony. Let us also avoid division and enmity in our society,” the emir urged.
He, therefore, appealed to leaders of the two religions to prevail on their followers to respect constituted authorities in their dealings with members of the public.
On Wednesday, violence marred the reopening of the 10 grant-aided missionary schools earlier shut by the Kwara government over the hijab controversy.
There was violence between hijab supporters and opposers at Surulere Baptist Secondary School.
Christians against hijab carried placards with inscriptions, “Give us back our schools,” “Enough of marginalisation.”
On the other hand, there Muslims with placards with “Laila Ilalahu Muhammadu Rosululah” (There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah) inscribed on them.
The chants by the opposing sides soon degenerated into violence as they hurled stones against one another.
The police dispersed the violent protesters with teargas and gunshots. The protesting groups were forced to leave, but not until they had damaged the school’s gate and signpost.
President of Kwara Baptist Conference, Victor Dada, told journalists that the state government did not respect the rule of law by deciding on a case already at the Supreme Court.
“What transpired this morning was simply because the government, led by Governor AbdulRahman Abdulrazaq, is not respecting the rule of law, and if the state government does not respect the rule of law, there will be chaos.
“The governor is making a pronouncement on a case that is before the Supreme Court, and judgment has not been given. As long as the state government doesn’t respect the rule of law, we will defend our property and our faith.
“We will not allow hijab in our school because this is a Christian mission school. Let Kwara State Government respect the rule of law,” Mr. Dada said.
At C & S College, Sabo Oke, there were Christians with placards saying, “Kwara State is for all, not an Islamic state,” “We say no to hijab,” and “Our school is our heritage.”
The protesters prevented the students and teachers from entering the school premises.
Similarly, at St. Anthony’s Secondary School, Offa Road, teachers and students hung around the premises in the police, soldiers, and civil defence personnel.
At the Bishop Smith Secondary School, Agba Dam, the school remained shut, with few students and security operatives around the institution.
Meanwhile, at ECWA School Oja Iya, academic activities have resumed.