Text of the Press Conference addressed by the Assistant General Secretary, Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Lagos State Area Unit, Mallam Sulaiman Dhikrillah, under the aegis of Council of Higher Institutions (COHI), an arm of the Unit, on Tuesday 5 March, 2013 on the Hijab crisis at the Unit Secretariat, Ebute Metta, Lagos.
In the name of Allah The Most Gracious The Most Merciful.
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Whole Worlds. May His peace and blessing be upon Prophet Muhammad, members of his household, companions and followers until the End of Time.
We welcome you all to this important press conference.
Sequel to the peaceful protest that we had on Thursday February 28, 2013 at the Governor’s Office, Alausa, Ikeja, against the continued victimisation, molestation and harassment of our sisters in Lagos State secondary schools over Hijab by their principals, we deem it necessary to tell the world the agreements we reached with government delegation before the almost nine hours protest was suspended.
Our representatives met with the government delegation which comprised Commissioner for Home Affairs, Mr Oyinlomo Danmole, Commissioner for Education, Mrs Olayinka Oladunjoye, Commissioner for Information, Mr Aderemi Ibirogba, Alhaji Hakeem Kosoko, Special Adviser to the Governor on Religious Affairs (Islam) and a delegation from the State Ministry of Education.
Our demands tabled before the government were as follow:
1. The principals of Kadara Junior Grammar School, Mrs E.C Upaka, and that of Mafoluku Senior Grammar School, Mrs Elizabeth Omidele, should be sacked.
2. The immediate reinstatement of Barira Tajudeen, the girl suspended for using Hijab outside school premises in Mafoluku Senior Grammar School, Oshodi.
3. That the victimization, harassment and maltreatment of our members should be stopped forthwith.
4 Use of Hijab as a part of School Uniform in public Secondary school in the State as granted by the constitution.
fter hearing our demands the government delegation presented evidence that investigation into the matter had commenced and gave a pledge to follow it to a logical conclusion ensuring that justice is served.
The delegation also assured that Bareeroh would be reinstated to school and shall not be disturbed in any manner from writing her exams. We however gathered that Bareerah has been called back to school under a stringent condition. The principal has coerced Bareera to sign an undertaken antithetical to this resolution more so she was made to serve punishment on the assembly for the same reason. It is our further request that the government would call the principal of Mafoluku to order in the spirit of justice.
They promised to issue a circular to stop the school authorities and Teachers from molesting our members over the use of hijab.
The delegation said our demand regarding making use of Hijab part of school uniform is a State Executive Council decision to make. They promised to table the demand at the SEC on Monday March 3rd (yesterday). All these, the government representatives promised to effect before Friday March 8, 2013 and we shall be contacted for a meeting on Friday to brief us on efforts on our demands.
Gentlemen of the press, let us reiterate once again that we are not out to fight the government. What we are demanding is the recognition and protection of our rights as guaranteed by the country’s constitution. The Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Lagos State Area Unit is known for peace and we have always been peaceful in the manner we carry out our activities.
We equally want to advise the government against reneging on these agreements as doing so may disrupt the relative peace being enjoyed in the state at the moment. We are saying this because some unknown elements in Lagos Island, which we firmly believe are sponsored by the state government, have been going on air to possibly create confusion in the minds of the public regarding what we are fighting for.
Gentlemen of the press, we are only demanding that our constitutionally guaranteed right should not be denied us. As I said earlier, we will not resort to lawlessness but at the same time we will not relent until justice is done.
We thank you for coming and we pray Allah (SWT) reward you all abundantly, amin.