By Hammed Shittu
Violence erupted in Ilorin yesterday when some suspected hoodlums invaded the C&S College, Sabo-Oke, Ilorin, Kwara State capital, with cutlass and dane-guns against the attempt to forcefully open the gate of the college.
The students of the college were also chased away and sent back home.
The development however led the deployment of men of the state civil defence, police, soldiers, State Security Service in order to avoid full blown break down of law and order in the area.
Also, at the Baptist Secondary School, Ilorin, some youths were throwing stones at some officials of the school and security operatives deployed to the school.
During a visit to the college at about 11.30 a.m. yesterday, the gate of the school was under lock and key, though teachers and staff reported for work.
The situation, however, turned chaotic and violent when some suspected hoodlums attempted to forcefully open the gate of the school even in the presence of security operatives.
Appeal for calm by the Chairman, State Teaching Service Commission, (TESCOM), Mr. Bello Abubakar, who addressed the angry crowd, fell on deaf ears.
Shortly after his address, another violent clash broke out again following gunshots fired from inside the Emmanuel Baptist Church opposite the C&S College Sabo Oke, at about 12.10 p.m. while the church was also pelted with stones and other objects.
The government ordered on Friday that the 10 mission schools earlier shutdown should resume classes to enable intending WASC students prepare for their examinations.
But the Christian community vowed to defy the directive of government and insisted that the use of Hijab would not be allowed in their mission schools. They also demanded the return of the schools to their original owners.
The pandemonium, however, spread to St Barnabas LGEA Primary School and some churches in the area as people armed with cutlasses and broken bottles went on rampage.
The Christian community also mobilised its own forces to counter the attack in the bid to protect their people and property.
The state’s Police Command’s Spokesman, Mr. Okasanmi Ajayi, who was met on ground at the scene, told journalists that the situation was under control.
Ajayi confirmed that aside the situation at the C&S College, Sabo Oke, normalcy had returned to the other nine mission schools involved in the issue of Hijab in the state capital.
Armed soldiers were later deployed to the area to restore peace and were still present till 2.26 p.m., when our correspondent left the scene.
Meanwhile, nine out of the 10 schools yesterday opened for partial normal classes amid tight security in the affected schools.
Only the C&S College, Sabo Oke, Ilorin, could not be opened as members of the Cherubim and Seraphim prevented the students from entering the college.
A visit by our correspondent to some of the schools showed that students were at hand to resume classes as Muslim students wore Hijab to the schools.
But the resumption of students at Baptist Secondary School, Surulere, Ilorin, later turned into violence as some suspected hoodlums were said to have attacked some officials of the school and security operatives deployed to the school
The suspected hoodlums who were armed with stones and pebbles later pelted those officials and security operatives at the main gate of the school.
The development, however, led the security operatives to shoot into the air in order to disperse the youths.
The soldiers who pursued the suspected hoodlums from the gate of the school said they were creating problem around the school.
Speaking on the resumption of the students, the State Chairman of the TESCOM, Mr. Bello Abubakar, said the government is gradually achieving its aim just as some SS3 and other students have resumed for lectures.
Also speaking, the President of the First Baptist Conference, Reverend Victor Dada, said that Christians would continue to legitimately reject the use of Hijab in the school.
Dada called on the state government to return the school back to them.
He said no amount of intimidation would stop the Christians from protecting their heritage.