The Muslim Rights Concern has accused the Chairman of the Ogun State Teaching Service Commission, Joshua Olalekan Ifede, of stereotyping and victimising Muslim women on account of their faith.
MURIC’s Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, in a statement on Friday alleged that Ifede on Thursday singled out female Muslim teachers who wore hijab for “tongue-lashing”.
The Muslim women were among other teachers attending a promotion interview.
The incident allegedly occurred at Lisabi Grammar School, Abeokuta, venue of the interview, the Islamic human rights organisation said.
The MURIC Director alleged that Ifede ordered the women to adjust their hijab to shoulder level or they would not be interviewed.
This, Akintola described as “religious profiling, provocative discrimination, power-drunkenness and abuse of office”.
In the statement, entitled: “Stop Stereotyping Muslim Women in Yoruba land: MURIC Tells Ogun Official, Evangelist Joshua,” Akintola said: “The order is draconian, illegal, unlawful and unacceptable.
“We are still battling with how to rescue Muslim children from the shackles of school tyrants, now Christian officials are gripping female Muslim teachers by the jugular. This is going too far.”
Akintola cited a certain official message which went viral on social media immediately after the incident purportedly from the TESCOM Chairman, which read: “Dear colleagues good afternoon. I have the directive of the TESCOM chairman, Evg. Lekan Ifede to inform you to get back to our teachers in all the interview centres to dress corporately.
“Tell our Muslim Sisters to put on hijab that doesn’t go beyond their shoulder. Whosoever that is not corporately dressed will not be attended to as from tomorrow. Thanks and pleasant night. CCZS.”
Akintola’s said: “This message is discriminatory, repugnant and unethical. It is a smear on the image of Ogun State government. No state government official should set aside any particular group for this kind of humiliating treatment. It is also an audacious affront on the Muslim community of Ogun State in particular and Nigerian Muslims in general.”
He wondered whether Ifede had the mandate of the state government to make such pronouncement, and called on the government to clarify its position.
He also stated that with the development, it was obvious that the promotion exercise would favour Christian teachers at the expense of their Muslim counterparts.
The MURIC Director also demanded the immediate postponement of the promotion exercise and the removal of the TESCOM chairman.
Akintola said: “This man has exhibited extreme hatred for Muslims. We have no confidence in any promotion exercise conducted under his supervision. Evangelist Joshua has failed to separate the calling of the church from his official duty as chairman of the commission in whose hands is the welfare of both Muslims and Christian teachers.”
MURIC also alleged that no single Muslim currently heads the TESCOM in any state in Yorubaland.
He said further: “Of course it is an open secret that CAN (Christian Association of Nigeria) goes round insisting on certain posts for its members. The domination of the education sector is already a fait accompli by CAN and it is aimed at perpetuating the oppression of Muslim students and teachers.
“The Evangelist Joshua affair which occurred yesterday was made possible by this same arrangement and it has proved once again that religious tolerance in Yorubaland is a myth, a phantom, a mirage. It is sheer propaganda.”
He also addressed those he described as “ideologues of Oduduwa Republic to the plight of Muslims in Yorubaland”.
Akintola urged leaders of the groups agitating for Yoruba breakaway to admit that there is a strain in Christian/Muslim relationship in the South West and first proffer solutions instead of blackmailing and accusing it (MURIC) of fomenting trouble in the region.