The Kwara State Government has been called upon to enforce the religious freedom of all students in all schools in the state irrespective of the so-called original proprietors.
The Kwara State Muslims Stakeholders’ Forum made the call on Wednesday in Ilorin during a press conference organised by the forum to react to non complaint of the Court judgement by some so-called original proprietors of Christian schools in the state about wearing of Hijab and religious freedom.
The Chairman of the forum, Mal. Is’haq Abdulkareem, addressed the Journalists at the Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria, (MMWGN) office, Taiwo road, Ilorin.
He appealled to the government through the state Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development to ensure strict and urgent compliance of the High Court and the Court of Appeal orders by the concerned so-called original proprietors of some Christian schools in the state.
He said the recent judgement of the Court of Appeal affairmed the earlier one delivered in 2014 by the Ilorin High Court which spelt out the freedom of religion in all grant-aided schools in the state.
He therefore raised a concerned that Muslims students in some secondary schools originally owned by the Christians have been facing intimidation, harrashment and denial in the basis of their faith, the Islam.
Mal. Abdulkareem said this attitude has become worrisome in a state with over 80 per cent Muslim population, of which 14 out of 16 Local Government have overwhelming Muslim majority.
“They are denied the right to pray as and when due. They are also forced to participate Christian prayers in the school assemblies and denied the rights of Islamic prayers as against the provision contained in section 38 of the Nigeria Constitution.
“Also, Hijab wearing is prohibited for female Muslim students , while pastors are brought from various churches to conduct morning Assembly in the school” the group lamented.
He said it is appalling that these are happening in schools owned and controlled by the state government where salaries and all the entitlement of staff are government’s responsibilities
While saying that Kwara Muslims are peace lovers and law abiding citizens, the Muslim stakeholders’ Forum therefore seized the opportunity to also appeal to peace loving Christians in the state to advise their brethren to allow peace to reign not only in all schools but also throughout the state.
Below are some of the quotations from summary implications/analysis of Court of Appeal Judgement in the Incorporated Trustee of Christian Association of Nigeria & 10 ORS VS The Kwara State Government & 14 ORS as presented by the forum.
*Management and control of all grant-aided schools now belong to the Kwara state Government under the Kwara state Governor.
*Wearing of Hijab in all schools in kwara state is the fundamental right of all female Muslim students which cannot be restricted by any regulation or law whatsoever, that right has been donated by the constitution.
*To insist that Muslims in all grant-aided schools must dress, pray, and sing in Christian ways amount to discrimination of their rights and such must not be allowed.