The National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations (NACOMYO), Kwara State Chapter has called on the state government to allow students of primary and secondary schools hold separate congregational prayers in public schools on the Assembly ground by both Christians and Muslims.
The call was contained in statement signed by NACOMYO Coordinator, Kwara State chapter, Alhaji Hussein Gobir and Secretary, Special Duties, Mallam Abdulhameed Jimba which was made available to newsmen.
The Kwara State government had recently banned religious groups from preaching in public schools across the state. This directive was contained in a statement released by the state Commissioner for Education and Human Capital Development, Hajia Fatimoh Ahmed.
According to the commissioner, no religious group is permitted to go to schools to engage in any form of religious activities during morning assembly. The statement also added that all prayers on assembly grounds must now be done silently.
This directive had generated reactions among both Christian and Islamic groups.
NACOMYO noted that the culture of separate prayers led by a Muslim and a Christian teacher in line with religious belief of students and pupils in the Assembly ground had been in existence for so long.
The Council said that any attempt to disrupt such age long tradition of separate prayers in line with religious belief of all students and pupils would not be accepted.
The statement reads in parts:
“We wish to use this window of opportunity to express our concern about disruptive attitudes of some people to discontinue the congregational prayers Muslim and Christian Students hold
separately which is usually led by a Muslim and a Christian teacher at the Assembly ground.
“This is a cultural tradition that has been in existence for long and we uphold it on our part.
“It has been observed in a Newspaper publication that the Kwara State Government and the Christian Association of Nigeria differ regarding holding separate
congregational prayer in public schools on the Assembly ground by both Christians and Muslims.
“The former viewed that should students in both primary and secondary schools have
prayer during their morning Assembly, it should henceforth be in silence, while the latter is of the
stand that the prayer in public schools should be conducted in accordance with the religious faith
of the proprietor of each school.
“We want to declare that we disagree with the latter view as it
contradicts the Nigerian constitutional provision of fundamental human right to freedom of religion.
“Also, this does not give room for the principle of religious tolerance which is aimed at achieving peace and harmony in a multi-religious society.
“In line with the recent court judgement delivered in favour of the Muslims that female Muslim
students have constitutional right to use hijab in public primary and secondary schools in Kwara
State, NACOMYO’s position on the issue at hand is that since Nigeria constitution provides for
freedom of religion both Muslims and Christians should maintain separate religious devotion
during their morning Assembly.
“Kwara State is a state of harmony, so all hands must be on deck
to sustain this image and not to tamper with the peaceful co-existence which the citizens and the residents of the state have been known for over the years.
“It should be noted that Islam is a religion of peace and recognises the essence of prayer in human
life and it is firmly believed that no religion preaches against peace and disbelieves in the
efficacy of prayer for personal and national development.
“As such, we are pleading with the
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kwara State Chapter, our fellow Muslims and other
stakeholders to let us maintain our good relationship for sustainable peace and harmony in our
beloved state and nation at large.
“We urge the state government to do everything administratively possible so that every teacher and student can practise his or her religion with peace in and out the school environment”.