The Muslim Rights Concern has clarified controversies concerning the comments surrounding the hijab issue made by the Lagos State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dr. Abdulateef Abdulhakeem, on Television.
The group in a statement issued to the press on Monday and signed by its Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, stated that the commissioner was “misreported and misunderstood” stressing that the commissioner only stated the obvious.
The statement said: “What was reported was not exactly what he said. What he said reflected the official position of the state government. It was not his personal opinion. His response may have been different if asked about his personal opinion. But that would have breached protocol. Once you are in government you owe total allegiance to that government. That does not diminish from your faith as a Muslim.”
Akintola also stated that a lot of issues were discussed in the programme and it is surprising that only hijab is been talked about and he further added that he saw nothing wrong with the response of the commissioner.
He affirmed: “Dr. Abdullateef Abdulhakeem is an erudite Islamic scholar. He is well grounded in Islamic jurisprudence. He can separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to the relationship between Islam and politics. He is also the most successful Islamic scholar who has dabbled into politics in Lagos State in particular and in Nigeria in general. We are proud of him.”
“We repose full confidence in Dr. Abdullateef Abdulhakeem. He has not in any way shied away from his responsibility as an Islamic scholar. Anyone with the same versatility like he brandishes must have certain limitations particularly when he wears two caps. This is what we want Muslims to understand.”
Akintola pointed out that it could have been difficult for the commissioner to divorce his role as an Islamic cleric and as a government official, hence the need to find a balance.
It said: “We must know that there is a difference between his role as an Islamic scholar and his role as a government official. He needs to maintain a balance between the two roles and we must allow him to do that if we do not want to destroy him. What happened was that some Muslims expected him to speak as an Islamic scholar at the interview but that would have been wrong.
“Only those who want to deliver him into the hands of journalists who are seeking sensation without regard for a man’s career will insist that he should have stated the wish of Muslims at the interview. He was there representing the Lagos State government at that material time. In any case, he was not asked for the position of Islam on the issue or the viewpoint of Lagos Muslims.”
Akintola also pointed out that Lagos State should have respected the constitution and allow the use of hijab by female students.
It said: “In view of the fact that the Constitution of any nation is the font et origo of all laws, codes, ordinances, rules and regulations of that country, Lagos as the center of excellence in Nigeria should not have allowed the issue of hijab to become so contentious to the extent that it became a matter of litigation. Lagos should have liberalized the matter and allowed the use of hijab by female Muslim pupils in its public schools.
“We therefore contend that LASG’s continued restriction on the use of hijab in public schools particularly after a court of competent jurisdiction has declared hijab constitutional and the Supreme Court has rejected the state government’s application for stay of execution is illegal, unlawful, illegitimate and unconstitutional. This restriction should be lifted with immediate effect and a circular to that effect should be issued by the Lagos State Ministry of Education. Better still, LASG should withdraw its appeal at the Supreme Court because it is an open attempt at judicial procrastination. We all know that justice delayed is justice denied.”
He also frowned at students been punished outside the school gates for wearing hijab by Christian teachers stating that the actions of the teachers are out of place.
Akintola added: “It is the height of tyranny for Christian teachers to flog female Muslim students for wearing hijab outside the schools’ premises. These students wear their hijab from home and remove it at the school’s gate. A teacher’s legitimate authority stops at the school’s gate. It does not extend to the streets. It is ultra vires. It is tyrannical, atrocious, inhuman and fanatical. It is abuse of power.”