A Muslim organisation, Ta’awunu Human Rights Initiative, has petitioned the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu over alleged harassment of female Muslim students in schools for wearing hijab and Niqob.
The group alleged that female Muslim students in some government owned primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in Southern Nigeria were being harassed for wearing hijab and Niqob and warned that the development is an invitation to anarchy.
The group in its petition which was signed by the Director General of the organization, Barr. Sulaymon A. Tadese, the group appealed to the Minister to address the issue before it would lead to breakdown of Law and order.
According to the petition “It is pertinent to inform you that Muslim Students in Government owned Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Institutions in Southern Nigeria were on frequent basis harassed, embarrassed and circumscribed on the sole reason of putting on Hijab”.
“Hijab is a decree of the Qur’an which is the holy scripture of the Muslims contained in chapter 33 verse 59 of Glorious Qur’an which provided that “O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them” which is consistent and encapsulated in the flavour of the provision of Section 38 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended 2011 on freedom of Religion, Thought and expression and a furtherance of the Islamic personal law expressly permitted in Nigeria.”
“It is important to put you on notice that Hijab, whether below the Navel or above it is compulsory for every Female Muslims anywhere they found themselves as a decree of Almighty Allah quoted in the above verse. It is not an exaggeration to say removing Hijab from a Female Muslim head is akin to undressing her, it is considered as a nakedness.”
“It is on record however that, despite the express provision of Section 38 of the Constitution on Freedom of Religion, some Christian named Government owned Primary and Secondary schools had proscribed the wearing of Hijab, harassing students and stealing their inalienable rights.”
The group said between November and December, 6 different cases of harassment of Female Muslims in Hijab and Niqob were reported in Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Lagos and Akwa Ibom States.
The group said mentioned Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta as one of the institutions that banned hijab and Niqob.
It also frowned that a lecturer at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Ogbomoso Oyo State who is also the Dean of the College of Nursing threatened a Muslim student that used niqab with rustication.
The petitioner said “At Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex, School of Nursing and Midwifery Ile Ife, Osun State, the principal made some female Muslim Nursing Students to sign an undertaking under duress, that they will not wear Hijab to lecture rooms and that they should be rusticated if they do so”.
“Similarly, in Community Grammar School Papa, Iwo Local Government of Osun State, a principal had instructed Muslim female students to always make sure their head covering garments (Hijab) are removed before proceeding to entire the School premises of which same had been confirmed and brought to the notice of the state Government of Osun.
“We have gotten a recent report as well from Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta that a lecturer, had given a veiled Muslim student the option of either removing her veil or leave his class. That is indeed a strangulating option to render Muslim citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Southwest irrelevant. The peaceful coexistence of Nigerian is sacrosanct at the expense of not-willing-to abide citizens of the country who are religious stooges and are well sunk in religious bigotry to render the Constitution useless and irrelevant to suit their elusive desires.
“Let it be known that the Security of Nigeria which the Government of the Federation had painstakingly maintained is under attack, as a total breakdown of law and order will add more salt to the injury caused by insecurity in the country which our Human Rights Group stood to avert.
“We believe in the functioning, Supremacy and relevancy of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended and the fact that its jurisdiction covers every person natural or artificial, Juridical or judicial in the nooks and crannies of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Constitution is supreme and its provision shall have binding force on all persons and authorities throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria; this is the oxygen which we believe gave life to the wordings of the pages of the Constitution. We demand the strict application of the Fundamental Rights of all Nigerians.
“To this effect and conclusively, it is important to state that no other law anywhere in Nigeria whether from the Ministry of Education, Council of Nursing of Nigeria, the council of legal education; any code of conduct and ethical rules, inconsistent with the provision of the constitution should stand, it is by virtue of section 2 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria rendered null and void.
“We are aware of a bill still on a reading entitled ‘Religious Discrimination (Prohibition, Prevention) Bill 2021, emanating from the House of Representative early this year and towards fasting the passing and before implementation of this Bill which we believe is in the interest of over 70% Nigerian Muslims in the South we demanded that all Board of Education and State Ministries of Education be enjoined to maintain and uphold the provision of section 38 of the constitution on Freedom of Thought, Conscience and religion to maintain peaceful inter-faith coexistence between and among Nigerians.
“As a concern Human Rights Group in Nigeria we considered disrespect for the extant law of the land on Freedom of Religion as a flash point that could crippled further the Security of lives and the wellbeing of all Nigerians which is the primary function of the Government which the Federal Government had tirelessly maintain in the country while we make a call to arrest this illegality before in escalates beyond expectation,
“We are looking forward to a quick response to our demands”, the group said.