***Reiterates its rejection in grant-aided Christian mission schools
By Steve Oni, Ilorin
The Catholic Bishop of Ilorin Diocese, Most Rev. Paul Olawoore, has condemned the Kwara state government’s use of force to take control of Christian mission schools in the State, declaring that “we are not in agreement with the government over the use of hijab in our schools.”
The Bishop, who was stating the Catholic Church position on the use of hijab in grant-aided Christian mission schools in the state, however, discouraged any form of violence, saying “I don’t want any confrontation that will inflict pain or any kind of injury on anybody. Neither do I wish that anyone should lose his or her life on this issue.”
Bishop Olawoore, who is also the Chairman of the State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), opined that it’s time to join hands to show the world that peaceful coexistence and tolerance is the way to go, rather than apportioning blame or accusing one another derogatorily.
Also reacting, Rev. Fr. Ralph Ajewole, who is CAN’s Director of Ecumenism and Interfaith Dialogue, debunked the message making the rounds that Christians have agreed to the use of hijab in their grant-aided mission schools, describing the message as a blatant lie from the pit of hell.
He said: “We insist that the Catholic Church rejects and condemns the use of Hijab in our Mission Schools. No matter how hard anyone tries to change the narrative, we stand with CAN that the use of Hijab is totally rejected in schools built and owned by Christians in the state.
“The conduct of the state government in which its agents forcefully broke the Christian mission schools’ gates under the watch of armed security men is unpleasant, uncharitable and quite unfortunate.
“The Church is, however, not interested in violence of any type; hence it jettisoned it, but we need to sound it loud and clear that we would protect and defend our heritage.”
Lamenting that the state government has not done much for the grant-aided mission schools, resulting in dilapidated structures in the schools, Rev. Fr. Ajewole, therefore, called on the government to hands off any form of grant-aiding to the mission schools and return them back to their original owners.
Rev. Fr. Christopher Atoyebi, who is the Director, Diocesan Communication Commission, in a chat with journalists in Ilorin, reiterated that: “The Catholic Church, in line with other Churches, do not agree to the use of hijab in mission schools under any circumstances, hence our demand that government should return our schools back to us for effective management.”
The Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria urged Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq to hearken to the voice of reason and reverse the decision on the use of hijab in grant-aided Christian mission schools, adding that the state government should do the needful by returning the schools back to their original owners.
“We enjoin the government of Kwara State to toe the path of peace and promote mutual co-existence of the people of the State. We also want to clearly and pointedly reiterate our position that we the Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria Ilorin, strongly oppose and reject the use of hijab in our mission schools,” Pharm. Sola Akolade, Diocesan Catholic Laity President said.