9th August, 2023
MURIC DEMANDS OUTCOME OF LASG INVESTIGATION INTO ASSAULT ON HIJAB BY SCHOOL PRINCIPAL
The Lagos State government has been taken to task on an investigation launched into the forceful snatching of hijab from the head of a school girl in December 2022. An Islamic human rights advocacy group, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has demanded for the update on the matter whose outcome is still unknown eight months later. MURIC describes the delay in the release of the investigation as evidence of attempted coverup.
The human rights group made the demand on Wednesday, 9th August, 2023 through a press statement issued by its Executive Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
The full statement reads :
“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 in December, 2022 (https://iwitness.com.ng/lagos-school-principal-defies-supreme-court-on-hijab/).
“Following a tornado of outcries from Lagos Muslims, the Lagos State Government (LASG) said it had recalled the principal and other teachers involved. It also said it had set up a panel to investigate this act of assault on 26th December, 2022 (https://dailytrust.com/lagos-probes-school-principal-for-violating-hijab-judgement/; https://edutorial.ng/hijab-lagos-govt-probes-school-principal-for-violating-court-judgement/).
“A circular signed by the Tutor General/ Permanent Secretary Education District IV, Olusegun Olawale, LASG said the principal violated the Supreme Court judgment of June 17, 2022, and the Head of Service circular of December 5, 2022 urging school authorities to abide by the Supreme Court judgement.
“The circular, with reference number 2022/087, stated inter alia, “Consequent upon the Supreme Court judgment on the use of hijab in Lagos State Schools delivered on 17th June 2022 and the Head of Service Circular No. 068, dated 5th December 2022 which was made available to all principals through the Information Platform (D34 Notice/Information).
“Available information at our disposal alleged that the Principal of Eletu-Odibo Junior High School, Abule-Oja, Yaba decided to violate the judgement of the Apex Court and the H.O.S Circular, which is tantamount to misconduct and punishable under the Lagos State Public Service Rule (PSR). However, the Principal and other Officers involved have been recalled from the School with immediate effect, while the investigation is ongoing.’
“Although the circular ended with warning of dire consequences should any principal or staff be caught assaulting students on the issue of hijab or in one way or the other contravening the hijab judgement in future, the fact that nothing concrete has been heard from the investigating panel eight months after its inauguration makes the warning an empty threat.
“Egged on by the ugly phenomenon of panels whose reports sometimes end up under the carpet, MURIC is constrained to demand for the update on the investigation.
“It will be recalled that we protested against the principal’s action in our public statement of 22nd December 2022 (https://newsbreak.ng/there-must-be-consequences-for-forceful-removal-of-hijab-in-lagos-schools-muric/; https://newsday.com.ng/muric-fumes-as-lagos-principal-removes-students-hijab/). There was also a follow up intervention on 29th December, 2022 to affirm that we mean business (https://www.muricnigeria.com/lagos-principals-probe-we-demand-transparency-justice-muric/).
“However, we are miffed that LASG has not informed the Lagos public about the outcome of the investigation eight months after setting up the panel. Tax-payers deserve better particularly when it has to do with good treatment of school children, respect for the dignity of the girl child, sanctity of the hijab, the rule of law, justice, equity, fair play and respect for the pronouncement of the highest court in the land.
“We therefore demand the report of the panel. In addition, MURIC and curious Nigerians will like to know what happened to the culprits, i.e. ‘the principal and other officers involved’ who, according to LASG ‘have been recalled from the School with immediate effect’.
“If tax payers’ money was spent on the panel investigating the matter, the Muslims of Lagos State who, undoubtedly, constitute the bulk of tax payers in the state, deserve to know the outcome. How long should it take a panel to investigate a case of hijab snatching? Why should the outcome of such a simple investigation remain shrouded in mystery? Is this not symptomatic of a coverup?
“The Muslim Rights Concern is deeply concerned because acts of impunity and criminality will not depart our land unless culprits are not only punished but seen to have been punished. Those who dehumanize our daughters and rob them of their self-esteem must be made to serve as deterrents to others. Nigerians must learn to love and respect their fellow homo sapiens, young and old, Muslim and Christian.”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)