By Akinwale Kasali
There may be crisis in Ogun State Government Schools over the use of Hijab by Muslim Students following the order by the Ogun State League of Imams and Alfas mandating all female Muslim students in the state to begin wearing hijab in public schools.
After its December meeting in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, it was unanimously agreed upon by the Leagues of Imams and Alfas that this should be the order of the day in Public Schools upon resumption of Second Term on January 9th, 2023.
The State’s Islamic leaders said the order for the use of the hijab in public schools came after a recent meeting with the State government about the need for their female children to wear hijabs to complement their school uniforms.
The league said in a statement signed by its Secretary General, Sheikh Tajudeen Adewunmi, on Tuesday that the use of hijab will begin on January 9, 2023, when students return for their second term.
The league also said only “desiring and willing female Muslim students could wear a white-coloured shoulder-length cape Hijab as they resume for the second term of the 2022-2023 academic session on Monday, January 9, 2023, and henceforth without any fear of molestation or punishment.”
The statement read in part: “At the end of our December 2022 general meeting, where many issues bothering the welfare of the Ummah were discussed, we resolved to express the opinion of the Muslim community (the Ummah) in the state as it concerns the following issues.
“Many female Muslim students in Nigeria, particularly in Ogun State, have continued to feature unnecessarily in many protracted cases of infringements on their rights in their quest to practise their religion, particularly in relation to the use of Hijab in schools.
“However, all doubts or controversies on the matter have been put to rest by the pronouncement of the honourable justices of the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which reaffirmed the rights of Muslim students in Nigerian schools to use Hijab as they so wished.
“It should also be noted that many agencies of the Ogun State government have consistently stated that there is no law that prohibits female Muslim students from wearing Hijab, despite the fact that Muslim students who wear Hijab have always been beaten, embarrassed, or humiliated in a variety of ways over the years.”
The league pleaded with the State Government to warn teachers and school heads to desist from depriving Muslim female students of their human rights and accept the approval of the use of hijab in schools.
The statement further read, “We request the state Government warn overzealous and religiously intolerant individuals among school heads and teachers, as well as others who might want to take laws into their own hands by preventing Muslim students who are willing to express their fundamental human right.
“The Muslim Community had noted the previous intolerance and disdain from non-Muslim teachers and heads of schools toward Muslim students on this matter, which include (but are not limited to) molestation, the affliction of physical injury, and many other forms of harassment.”
The religious leaders also frowned at the dearth of Islamic Religious Knowledge teachers in public schools in the state.
“Apart from the fact that Muslim students were deprived of the opportunity to learn Islamic Studies in many schools in the state, it is more unfortunate, disheartening, and in fact illegal (in the spirit and intent of the aforementioned provision of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) that Muslim students in some government-owned schools in Ogun State are being compelled to offer Christian Religious Knowledge as a subject in the schools.
We use this opportunity to call on the state government and, in particular, the Honourable State Commissioner of Education, Science, and Technology to, as a matter of urgency, correct the anomaly through the recruitment and deployment of Islamic Studies teachers to schools across the state to teach the subject.”
Though the Commissioner for Education, Science, and Technology in the state, Prof. Abayomi Arigbabu, is yet to issue a Statement to this effect.