23rd November, 2023
ALLOW FEMALE MUSLIMS IN LASTMA TO WEAR HIJAB – MURIC
Amidst reports that Muslim women in the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) are facing harassment over the right to use hijab while in uniform, a Muslim Rights advocacy group, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has called on the authorities of LASTMA to approve the use of hijab without delay.
MURIC based its call on the approval of hijab by the Nigerian Police since 4th March 2022. Muslim police women who desire to use hijab have since started to use it on their uniform.
The call was made on Thursday, 23rd November, 2023 in a press statement signed by the Executive Director of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
His full statement reads:
“There have been reports of warnings and reprimands handed down to female Muslim officers of the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA) who have expressed desire to use hijab.
“The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) frowns at this repressive attitude. We condemn attempts to restrict the religious freedom of Muslims under any guise in uniformed agencies. Hijab is an expression of freedom to practice and liberty to manifest one’s faith.
“Any attempt to curtail workers’ freedom of worship through the disapproval of hijab constitutes a violation of their Allah-given fundamental human rights as enshrined in Section 38(i)&(ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Therefore, any circular, ordinance, rule, regulation, memorandum, parade instruction, oral last order, signal, etc against the use of hijab anywhere in Nigeria is illegal, illegitimate, unlawful and unconstitutional. Section 1(1)&(3) of the Constitution declares the Nigerian Constitution supreme over all other instructions emanating from institutions and agencies in the country and since the same constitution stipulates freedom of religion, anything to the contrary is ultra vires, null and void.
“We therefore advise traffic agencies in all states of the federation, particularly LASTMA authorities in Lagos to take a cue from the approval of hijab by the Nigeria Police which came into effect since March 2022 by allowing female traffic officers who wish to wear hijab to do so according to the law.
It will be paradoxical for traffic law officers to break the law by illegally and unlawfully encroaching on Allah-given fundamental human rights of Muslim traffic officers to use hijab.
“America, Britain, South Africa, etc are now in the league of countries whose female Muslim soldiers, police and traffic officers use hijab without let or hindrance. The use of hijab by Muslim women in uniformed services is therefore a global practice. Nigeria joined the bandwagon when the Nigerian Police approved the use of hijab for its female Muslim officers.
“If indeed Lagos is the center of excellence, it should lead other states in matters of civil liberties. This is why Lagos cannot afford to be left behind in this issue of hijab for traffic officers. Lagos as the center of excellence must be part of global best practices.
“Besides, female Muslim police officers in Lagos State started using hijab from the moment it was approved by the Nigerian Police in March 2022. In the name of equity and fairness, their LASTMA counterparts cannot be deprived of the same right moreso since many of them are already agitating for it. Neither can LASTMA afford to be anti-Muslim.
“MURIC therefore implores LASTMA authorities and their counterparts in other states to allow female Muslim staff who wish to use hijab to do so. This is a matter of civic right and existential guarantee. MURIC as a human rights group will monitor this development in all the states of the federation. We hereby put all our state branches on notice for effective monitoring and prompt notification where there are breaches.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC).