....As Muslims call APC to caution Governor Fashola
The Muslim Students' Society of Nigeria, Lagos State Area Unit has asked the leadership of All Progressives Congress, APC to caution Governor Babatunde Fashola over his clampdown on Islam and Muslims in the state.
The group said this in a press statement signed by its President, Kaamil Kalejaiye ahead of the judgement expected to be delivered by Justice Grace Modupe Onyeabo, on whether or not the use of Hijab (Muslim head-scarf) should be allowed by female Muslim students on Friday, September 26, at the Ikeja High Court, Lagos.
Justice Onyeabo after hearing both the complainant (MSSN) and defendants (Lagos State Government) argued their cases on Friday, July 4, pronounced the date for the final judgment.
The pronouncement to give the final judgment came after the case was adjourned for about five times, most of which came on applications by the government’s counsel.
It would be recalled that the Lagos State Government banned the use of Hijab on the argument that it was not part of the approved school uniform for students.
Following that, MSSN proceeded to court to seek redress and protect Muslim females from being flogged, embarrassed, and victimised for using Hijab within and outside school premises.
In one of the instances, an eleven-year-old student of Kadara Junior High School, Ebute Metta, Aisha Alabi, was on February 5, 2013, flogged forty three (43) strokes of cane on the assembly ground by her principal, Mrs. E.C Ukpaka, for not removing her Hijab after coming out of an Islamic Religious Knowledge class, where it is ordinarily permitted to adorn Hijab.
Similarly, on February 20, 2013, Bareerah Tajudeen of Mafoloku Senior Grammar School, Oshodi had her Hijab removed and trampled upon by her principal, Mrs. Elizabeth Omidele, outside the school premises. During the last proceeding at the Lagos High Court, Counsel to the Muslim Students, Adetola Kassim (SAN) had in a 24-paragraph counter affidavit, said the use of Hijab was a compulsory religious obligation on Muslim ladies who have reached the stage of puberty, which is not applicable to women alone.
While emphasizing that Hijab was not only religiously compulsory but constitutional, Kassim said, “Hijab, is Allah's injunction as stated in the Holy Quran, as well as a fundamental rights as fully established in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“We are not demanding for a full lent Hijab, we have exhibited a photograph of a sample of Hijab, which still represents their school identity. The colour of the Hijab can conform to the school uniform. All we want is for the students to be allowed to use Hijab. If beret and caps are allowed for female students, Hijab shouldn't be an exemption."
Kalejaiye said the governor was labelled bad example of a Muslim due to his stamping measures on Islam.
"Governor Fashola has disappointed a lot of Muslims in Lagos State, firstly with his decision to demolish the mosque within the premises of Lagos State Government Secretariat, when even the Presidential Villa and National Assembly in Abuja have mosques. He went further to appoint all the six state's Education District Head (Permanent Secretaries) without considering at least a Muslim as against previous appointments, whereas there are many qualified Muslims for the job. Now he has deliberately trampled upon our citizenry rights by denying Muslim female students the freedom of dressing," he added.
He expressed worry that the group had to seek redress in court for a right that has been clearly stated in the constitution.
He said, “We cannot afford to see our Muslimahs dress naked. Silence of Muslims must not be taken as a weakness; it is just our own way of respecting leadership as taught by our religion. But when silence no longer becomes golden, then we must seek redress. Hijab is an apparel of honour, a garment of modesty and a shield against immorality. It is our pride. It is our dignity.
“Nigeria’s constitution grants Freedom of Religion, Conscience and Expression. It states clearly the rights to wear anything one feels comfortable with, so far as it is neither provocative nor irresponsible. We are neither seeking for a favour nor asking for a privilege; we are simply demanding our rights. It is important to note here that Hijab has been granted by Muslim minority states, how much more Lagos State with Muslim majority.”
Also, the Amirah (Female President) of the students-based society, Hajia Hafsah Badru added, “It also important to note that we are not calling for the Hijab to be compelled on students, our demand is simply: permit Hijab and discriminate not against nor victimize the Hijabites. The issue of Islamising Lagos schools does not hold any ground since the mode of dressing in all government schools is already Christian (School uniform with beret for females and short for males as against Hijab and trousers for Muslims).
"Leaders of Fashola's party should better call him and his aides to order or else we won't go back on our decision come 2015, NO HIJAB NO VOTE,” she added.
Alhaji Kaamil Kalejaiye
Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria
Lagos State Area Unit.