22nd December, 2022
FORCEFUL REMOVAL OF HIJAB IN LAGOS SCHOOL: THERE MUST BE CONSEQUENCES – MURIC
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has called on the Ministry of Education in Lagos State to investigate and take visible punitive action against the principal of Eletu Odibo Junior High School and other teachers involved in the snatching of hijab from the head of a school girl.
MURIC made the call on Thursday, 22nd December, 2022 through a press statement issued by the director of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
The statement reads :
“Our attention has been drawn to an ugly scene whereby the principal of Eletu Odibo Junior High School, Mrs. Christiana Sofuye, ordered the forceful removal of the hijab from the head of a female student, Mujeebah AbdulQadri, a JSS 2 student of the school right on the school assembly (https://iwitness.com.ng/lagos-school-principal-defies-supreme-court-on-hijab/).
“This action is provocative, unlawful, illegal, illegitimate and unconstitutional. Apart from constituting assault on the person of an innocent girl child, it is an act of contempt of the Supreme Court ruling of 17th July, 2022 which legitimised the use of hijab in Lagos schools.
“It is also an act of wilful disobedience to constituted authority particularly coming after the state government had issued a clear directive via an official circular that was given wide publicity (https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2022/12/06/lagos-approves-use-of-hijab-in-all-schools/). This forceful removal is reckless, thoughtless and barbaric.
“Attacking female Muslim students for using hijab is child abuse. It is flagrant violation of the United Nations Convention on Child’s Rights. Article 28 of the UN Convention lays emphasis on the right of every child to education. It says inter alia:
All children have the right to a primary education… Discipline in
schools should respect children’s dignity. For children to benefit
from education, schools must be run in an orderly way – without
the use of violence. Any form of school discipline should take
into account the child’s human dignity. Therefore, governments
must ensure that school administrators review their discipline
policies and eliminate any discipline practices involving physical
or mental violence, abuse or neglect.
“The personal dignity of Mujeebah AbdulQadri was infringed upon when her hijab was snatched from her head on the school assembly. The principal needs to be educated that the right to the dignity of the human person is entrenched in Section 34 (b) & (c) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended (2011) which says, ‘Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person’.
“Furthermore, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Article 4, Clause 1 & 2 also says, ‘Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person.’
“We are shocked to our marrows that Mrs. Sofuye could shun the Lagos State circular of 6th December, 2022 which ordered school administrators to allow the use of hijab. More disturbing is that no action has been taken against the culprits nine days after the ugly incident.
“This lackadaisical attitude is capable of giving the impression that the authorities are testing the will of the Lagos State Muslim community, condoning acts of impunity and illegality against them and promoting violence.
“Although MURIC does not condone violence, certain elements outside mainstream Islamic organisations in the state who are sympathetic to the cause of the victim of this act of unprovoked aggression and who also believe that nobody has the monopoly of violence may be tempted to take the law into their hands by physically confronting those who subject their loved ones either within or outside the school’s premises. This can be avoided by ensuring that justice is carried out and by giving publicity to action or actions taken by the authorities.
“This is why the Ministry of Education needs to move fast in ensuring swift and commensurate disciplinary action against the culprits. Apart from violating the law, there must be consequences for causing embarrassment to the state government.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that a school principal and her teachers who took actions contrary to the clear directive of the state government has embarrassed the latter. They need to explain why disciplinary action should not be taken against them.
“The school principal and her teachers who are responsible for this act of impunity must not only be punished for their recalcitrance, they must be seen to have been adequately castigated. Presently there is tension among Lagos Muslims. Therefore, a mild disciplinary action like ordinary transfer may not appease frayed nerves. Only a visible, pragmatic and commensurate punitive action can de-escalate the tense atmosphere.”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)