A seven-person committee set up by the Kwara State Government to investigate the circumstances that led to the recent violence in Oyun Baptist High School Ijagbo on Monday began sitting in Ilorin, the state capital.
At its inaugural sitting, the chairman of the panel Dr. Shehu Omoniyi explained that the panel was not to witch-hunt anyone but to assess critically what happened, how it happened, and make specific recommendations to the state government to prevent future reoccurrence.
“This panel is not meant to witch-hunt anybody. We are to assess critically what happened, how it happened those that were involved and make specific recommendations,” the panel chairman said.
“I urge people to calm down and cooperate with us. If you are invited, speak the truth and nothing but the truth. There’s no need to mislead the panel. Because we want to work with the fear of God and I hope at the end of the day all sides will be happy with our recommendations.”
Dr Omoniyi called for religious tolerance and understanding for peaceful co-existence.
In his submission, the Principal of the school Mr. Francis Lambe who narrated what transpired in the school between Wednesday January 19, 2022 and Thursday February 3, 2022 when the issue of hijab took another dimension said the resistance to the hijab was strictly from the Christian body in the community.
Mr Lambe explained that several meetings he held with some stakeholders to allow peace to reign in the school did not yield result.
He confirmed that government owns the school and is responsible for payment of its teachers, saying the only role played by the Baptist is advise the government on the choice of principal, as has been the culture in schools originally owned by missionaries.
The Principal who disclosed that the school has a population ratio of 47% Muslims and 53% Christians agreed that the wearing of hijab by willing Muslim girls did not have any negative effect on the school.
Mr Lambe agreed that the school is owned by the state government and all the stakeholders ought to accept government’s policies to be effective in all public schools.
“What I will recommend to the government is to invite the CAN and the concerned Muslim stakeholders and let them understand that policy is policy and pacify the two sides. Now, our school is closed. We have our SS3 students about 151 students ready to write WAEC,” he added.
The co-chairman of the panel is the Secretary General of Ijagbo Descendants Progressive Union Mr. Emmanuel Adebayo Fatola.
Other members are Pastor (Dr) Modupe Oreyemi Agboola; Kwara State Chairperson of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations Dr Saudat Baki; Special Assistant to the Governor on Religion (Islam) Alhaji Ibrahim Zubair Danmaigoro; Special Assistant to the Governor on Religion (Christianity) Reverend Timothy Akangbe; and a director in the Ministry of Justice Ishola Olofere (Secretary).