There was pandemonium at Baptist High School, Ejigbo in Osun State on Monday as hoodlums invaded the school attacking students, teachers and injuring the principal of the school for allegedly stopping some Muslim pupils from wearing hijab.
Our correspondent gathered that some hoodlums stormed the school while the students were already seated in their classrooms.
They were said to have headed straight for the Principal’s Office and asked the principal, Mr. Layi Oguntola, to apologise for sending the hijab-wearing students away from school but he the principal allegedly refused the order.
A source in the school said the principal was beaten to a pulp by the invaders.
It was gathered that the Ogiyan of Ejigbo, Oba Omowonuola Oyesosin, offered his palace as a refuge for the teachers and students while he also ensured the rescue of the principal from the fierce-looking youths.
The principal, according to a teacher in the school, was rushed to the Baptist Medical Centre, where he was said to be receiving treatment.
Some Muslims and Christian groups had locked in battle over the new education policy introduced by Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola.
The Christian Association of Nigeria in the state had opposed the policy, saying it was introduced to wipe away the heritage bequeathed unto them by the early missionaries.
The Osun Baptist Congress staged a protest against the new education policy in the state, saying they would not allow hijab-wearing students to be merged with the students of the Baptist College, Iwo.
But the Joint Muslims Action Forum, which is an umbrella body for all Islamic groups in the state, issued a statement on Sunday condemning the protest by the Osun Baptist Congress.
The statement was issued by JOMAF Coordinator, Alhaji Kola Uzamat; and Secretary, Mr. Qaasim Odedeji.
The group described the prevention of hijab-wearing students from Christian schools as an act of religious intolerance, which the Islamic group said would not be allowed in the state.
They accused Christians of attempting to sabotage Aregbesola’s policy, which they said was introduced to address the decay in the education sector in the state.
Aregbesola is a Muslim.
Also, the Catholic Media Practitioners in the state has threatened to drag the state government to court in order to stop the schools merger.
The CAMP, in a statement issued by its Public Relations Officer, Mr. Richard Adesida, said that the new policy, especially transforming single-sex schools to co-educational was unacceptable to Catholics and it would be resisted by every legal means.
The JOMAF statement read: “This is a blatant display of religious intolerance and lack of accommodation which cannot stand the test of time in a multi-religious society. This is an appropriate time and medium to debunk the age-long erroneous ownership claims on those schools that were acquired by missionaries from various host communities.
“The Baptist High Schools in Iwo, Ede and Iree as well as the Methodist High School, Otan Ayegbaju; Gbongan\Odeomu Anglican Grammar School and St Paul’s Anglican Grammar School, Ilobu, were all founded by their various Muslim-dominated communities but were fraudulently hijacked in the course of registration and search for teachers.
“We wish to draw the attention of the Baptist convention and other missionaries to the fact that the loss or obliteration of their heritage could not be rightly located in the education transformation policy of the present administration in Osun State.
“The issue of ownership of schools had been settled way back in the mid-seventies when the then Federal Government acquired all missionary schools, both Muslim and Christian-owned and compensated them for same.”
The Catholic group condemned the turning of single-sex school into mixed ones, saying they would not allow the merging of Catholic schools in the state with some other schools as a result of the “obnoxious educational policy of the state government.”
“We are particularly sad that schools like St. Charles Grammar School, Osogbo; and St. John Grammar School, Ile – Ife which were boys’ school now joined together with female schools,” the statement read.