School Decision Irks Muslims

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The determination by some state governments in Nigeria to return Christian schools to churches has irritated some Muslims, who are threatening to resist the plan. The government had taken over the schools in 1977.

Recently, the governments of Lagos, Plateau, Rivers, Edo, and Enugu states decided to return all Christian mission schools back to the churches in an effort to improve the educational standards in the country.

Church leaders have decried activities of teachers and principals in government-controlled schools, practices they say have led to moral laxity and the entrenchment of vices like "embezzlement of funds, explosion in examination malpractice, and stealing." Many of the buildings have fallen into disrepair.

"The evils of the hurried and planless forceful takeover of schools by the military has led to a fallen standard of education and morality, indiscipline, and other societal ills," says Anthony Okogie, the Catholic archbishop of Lagos.

Because Christian schools have been run by the government, Okogie says Nigerian "youths have become drug addicts, cultists, prostitutes, and hooligans."

However, Muslim leaders in Nigeria say the plan to return the schools to the churches is a violation of their fundamental rights to education in Nigeria. Spokesperson Lateef Adegbite, secretary general of the Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, says unless the plan to return the schools is rescinded, the organization may sue.

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