Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, has appealed to residents of the state not to allow agents of fake news and disinformation to mislead them and set them against one another.
The appeal was contained in a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Rafiu Ajakaye, which was made available on Tuesday.
In the statement titled, ‘Our stand on Hijab based on law, respect for pluralism’, the governor said Hijab was permissible for every Muslim female student, who desired to wear it with their school uniform.
He explained that Kwara State was a plural society whose diversity and maintenance of peaceful coexistence, as the southernmost northern state, were its most unique selling points.
The statement read in part, “The governor, therefore, condemns the reckless attempts by some fifth columnists to polarise our state along religious lines, using the settled question of Hijab in public schools as a smokescreen to advance their evil intent.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the governor maintains the earlier position of the state government on the question of Hijab as follows:
“Based on subsisting court judgments, which were built on the constitution, federal and state laws, principle of pluralism, and the sanctity of the right of every person to their identity, especially in public space, the use of Hijab in public schools is a constitutional right that the government shall protect for anyone and everyone willing to use it.
“The government’s strategic patience in the handling of delicate matters involving the people it swore to protect is not the same as pandering to anyone’s whims.
“Consequently, the governor stands firmly by the government’s policy on the permissibility of Hijab for every Muslim girl child, who desires to wear it in all public schools.
“The governor appeals to the people of the state to not allow agents of fake news and disinformation to mislead them and set them against one another. This administration is beholden only to the law, truth and fairness to all at all times.”
Meanwhile, a pro-democracy group, Kwara Must Change, has called on both Christian and Muslims to desist from antagonism and mutual suspicion that could lead to violence and meaningless loss of lives and properties over the issue of Hijab.
The group in a statement signed by its convener, Abdulrazaq Hamzat, said both parties should understand that the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was above any religion, and the government must be allowed to manage the current disagreement in the interest of peace and unity.
Hamzat explained that while the issue of Hijab was strictly a human right and constitutional issue, which had been subjected to judicial interpretation in favour of Muslims, the Muslims should not add petrol to fire under the guise of agitating for rights.
“Muslim should not take the law into their own hands by heating up the polity with threatening statements and imposing an atmosphere of disorder, while seeking the implementation of a judgment. They should instead cooperate with the government to do its job. Only the government can address the issue properly and they should be given all necessary cooperation to do so,” Hamzat stated.
According to him, everyone should direct their complaints or observations to the government in a civilised manner through proper communication, instead of attacking each other in the public space through inflammatory statements that could instigate the public.