The new education policy in Osun State claimed its first casualty on Monday as fierce-looking Muslim youths invaded the Baptist High School, Ejigbo, and beat up the students and teachers.
The principal of the school, Mr. Layi Oguntola, was thoroughly beaten and injured. Oguntola, as of the time of this report, was said to be receiving treatment at the Baptist Medical Centre, Ejigbo.
The attackers said they came because the school authorities stopped some Muslim pupils from wearing the hijab.
The hijab is a scarf that covers the head and chest, specially worn by a Muslim female.
Our correspondent learnt that the attackers 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 Oguntola to apologise for sending the hijab-wearing students away from school but the principal refused to do so.
There have been protests when the Governor Rauf Aregbesola administration recently introduced a new education policy, which entails merger and reclassification of schools in the state.
The Baptist conference specifically said it would not allow hijab-wearing students in its schools.
On Monday, the attacked students and teachers were said to have run for refuge at the palace of the Ogiyan of Ejigbo, Oba Omowonuola Oyesosin. The monarch was also said to have been instrumental to the rescue of the wounded principal from the attackers, made up of mostly youths.
The attack forced the Baptist High School and other schools in the town to close abruptly for the day as police were deployed in the town to forestall reprisal.
Some Muslim students of the school were said to have been turned back last week for wearing hijab on their uniforms and their parents were said to have reported the case to members of an Islamic sect in the town.
Tension started building in the town following the attack and the speculations that the attackers were also planning to set ablaze the United Baptist Church, close to the school.
Some Christian youths were also said to have mobilised to defend the church.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mrs. Folasade Odoro, when contacted, said she would find out the details of the incident and get back to our correspondent.
Commissioner for Information, Mr. Sunday Akere, confirmed the incident, which he described as an unfortunate one.
He appealed to the people of the state to shun violence, saying the state government in collaboration with security agencies would investigate and get to the root of the matter.
He said, “It is unfortunate that this happened at a time when we are already achieving peace in the area of schools reclassification.
“We are calling on all religious leaders and stakeholders to refrain from taking steps which could lead to the breakdown of law and order.”
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