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MURIC to Lagos State Government: Give us a circular on hijab

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Founder and Director, Islamic human rights organisation, Muslim Rights Concern, Prof. Ishaq Akintola

The Muslim Rights Concern has asked the Lagos State Government to issue a circular on the permissibility of using hijab in public schools in the state.

The demand was made by MURIC in a statement issued on Tuesday by its Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.

The group hinged its request on incidents in the state’s public schools in which some teachers maltreat female Muslim students who use hijab.

It said: “Female Muslim students are daily exposed to humiliation, persecution and denial of Allah-given fundamental human rights in Lagos public schools over the use of hijab. Although there is a subsisting court judgement in favour of hijab use, school authorities hide under the cover of the absence of an official circular approving or unbanning use of hijab to infringe on Allah-given fundamental human rights of the Muslim girl-child.

“The spread and sequence of these violations and abuses are alarming. Our records show that Lagos schools where female Muslim students are disallowed from using hijab in October 2021 alone include Okota Senior Grammar School, Okota, Isolo, Ogba Junior Grammar School, Ogba, Alimosho Junior Grammar School, Alimosho, Community Primary School, Ilogbo, Anglican Primary School, Ijanikin, L. A. Primary School, Ilogbo-Elegba, and Fazil Umar Ahmadiyyah Primary School, Okokomaiko, to mention just a few.

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“The most recent one is the incident at Igboye Community High School, Igboye, Epe, Lagos State, where two female Muslim students were made to stand outside the classroom in the sun while their classmates were writing an examination. This happened few days ago in December 2021 and their only crime was that they wore hijab.

“Meanwhile MURIC is aware that the state government does not support the maltreatment of female Muslim students who wear hijab. The Commissioner of Education, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo always intervenes whenever MURIC reports any case of overzealousness of a school principal or teacher over the hijab issue.

“Neither does the state governor have any aversion to the use of hijab. A picture that went viral last week showed Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu sitting beside an hijab-clad female Muslim student inside a classroom. There were also other Muslim girls who wore hijab in that classroom. That picture spoke volumes.

“A governor entered a classroom and saw some female students wearing hijab. He did not send them out. He did not order them to remove their hijab. Neither did he reprimand them for wearing it inside the classroom. Instead, he elected to sit beside one of such hijab-clad girls.

“MURIC commends Sanwo-Olu for this singular act. It is a clear demonstration of a positive inclination towards hijab. It exemplifies the height of religious tolerance and it sent a strong message to the Lagos public that the governor has nothing against hijab and Muslims.

“Yet the governor’s humane and accomodating attitude stands in contradistinction to the hostile disposition of the direct handlers of the Muslim girl-child in Lagos public schools.  In timid obedience to the schools’ instructions prohibiting use of hijab in the school premises, female Muslim students wear hijab from home but they remove it at the schools’ gates and tuck it inside their bags.

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“But the teachers go to the extent of assaulting the female Muslim students even inside commercial vehicles as they ride to or from school. They forcefully remove the hijab from the girls’ heads and slap them on their faces. These acts are not only judiciable but also provocative. They are capable of igniting religious crisis.

“It is therefore very glaring that the school principals, headmasters and teachers are the problems. But the irony here is that they also claim to be innocent and acting on the orders of the Sanwo-Olu administration. They tell Islamic organisations who complain of molestation of Muslim girls that there is no circular approving hijab. Though we ask them also to produce any circular that banned hijab ab initio, they stand their ground and the persecution continues ad infinitum.

“This squarely places the Muslim girl-child, her parents as well as Islamic organisations and the Lagos Muslim community in a conundrum. The LASG has a responsibility to resolve this dilemma by coming clear and producing a circular. MURIC calls on LASG to do the needful without delay.

“It is the lack of a clear directive from the state government to the school authorities which emboldens these teachers to maltreat, harass and intimidate Muslim students. It is an undisguised attempt to scare the Muslim girl-child from pursuing education.

“Osun State government under Governor Isiaka Oyetola issued a circular after some school authorities started behaving funny despite a subsisting court pronouncement and there has been no hijab controversy in the state since then.  But in Lagos public schools, principals and headmasters still demand government’s circular when Muslims cite the judgement of the Court of Appeal.

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“In retrospect, we remember that LASG banned the use of hijab about seven or eight years ago, arguing that it was not part of the approved school uniform for pupils. But the history of school uniform shows that the present school uniform being used in the whole of Southern Nigeria was designed by the British colonial masters who were, essentially, Christians and who, expectedly, designed a school uniform that was, and still is, suitable for Christians. Imposing it on Muslim children without regard for their faith is therefore insensitive, tyrannical and unacceptable.

“It is natural for Muslims to seek to modify the Christian uniform to suit the dictates of their faith at least for the female Muslim students who, according to the Glorious Qur’an, must not go out of their homes without wearing hijab (Qur’an 24:31; 33:59), hence the introduction of the hijab.

“But the government reacted to this development by banning hijab. Following the ban, Lagos Muslims argued that public schools are funded by the government from tax payers’ money and if it is true that Muslims in the state also pay tax, then their interests must be taken into account. Besides, Lagos is a cosmopolitan state, therefore, the policies of the state government must take into consideration the heterogeneity of the culture of its citizens.

“To challenge the ban on hijab, two 12-year-old girls under the aegis of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Lagos State Area Unit, filed a suit at the Ikeja High Court, Lagos, seeking redress and asking the court to declare the ban as a violation of their rights to freedom of thought, religion and education.

“On 17th October, 2014, Justice Modupe Onyeabor dismissed the suit instituted against the Lagos State Government and declared hijab illegal in public schools (https://www.channelstv.com/2014/10/17/court-upholds-lagos-ban-hijab-use-public-schools/https://dailypost.ng/2014/10/18/muslim-students-reject-court-ruling-hijab-ban-lagos/).

“The students approached the Court of Appeal and the latter, presided over by Justice A. B. Gumel, set the High Court judgement aside in a unanimous decision on case CA/L/135/15 between Lagos State Government, Asiyat AbdulKareem (through her father) Moriam Oyeniyi and Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria on Thursday, 21st July, 2016 (https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/207298-court-appeal-grants-lagos-public-school-students-right-wear-hijab.html).

“In his lead judgment, Justice Gumel held that the use of the hijab was an Islamic injunction and also an act of worship, hence it would constitute a violation of the appellants’ rights to stop them from wearing the hijab in public schools. The appellate court further held that the lower court erred in law when it held that the ban on hijab was a policy of the Lagos State Government.

“It is important to note that LASG took the case to the Supreme Court and requested for stay of execution of the appellate court’s decision but this was rejected on 7th February 2017 (https://punchng.com/lagos-takes-hijab-case-supreme-court/). The legal implication of this is that the status quo ante (i.e. the pronouncement of the Court of Appeal which approved the hijab before LASG approached the Supreme Court) must be maintained. Anything otherwise will be contempt of court.

“But it has been impunity galore since the Appeal Court approved the use of hijab as Lagos school authorities have turned female Muslim students into objects of ridicule, harrassment and persecution on account of their wearing hijab. The school authorities claimed they were unaware of the judgement of the Appeal Court which was favourable to use of hijab.

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“The position of Muslims in Lagos State has always been that if the teachers claim that they are unaware of the judgement of the Court of Appeal or that they are not quite sure of the position of the state government, a circular emanating from LASG or the state’s Ministry of Education will clarify the government’s position. This was what the government of Osun State did when teachers were reluctant to allow use of hijab in Osun schools after an Osun High Court declared the hijab constitutional. A circular was issued and the matter was put to rest.

“MURIC affirms that fundamental human rights are inalienable rights. They are not ordinary priviledges and their enjoyment is a major parameter for measuring good governance. In addition, compliance with the appeal court judgement on hijab which was delivered on 21st July, 2016 is critical to the affirmation of respect for the rule of law by the LASG.

“It is therefore mandatory that the LASG ensures that the Ministry of Education, the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), tutors general, principals, headmasters and teachers of public schools are instructed to obey the appeal court ruling. The only official instrument known for doing this is the issuance of a government circular directing these organs and officials to allow female Muslim students who wish to use hijab to do so.

“Only thus will the government’s good intention become manifest to all. The absence of a circular has created a communication gap as well as a sharp contradiction between the friendly attitude of the state’s executive governor and the hostile mien of authorities of public schools towards the use of hijab. The time to issue the circular is now, before Lagos Muslims start thinking of dragging the state government, its education agencies and school authorities to court for contempt.”

The Eagle

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Bizarre! Men Arrested For Injecting Underaged With Substances to Make Stomachs Swell to Get Alms

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Some injected children

The police in Lagos have arrested three men over allegation that the convert under-aged children to objects of begging for alms by injecting them with substances that make their stomachs to swell up.
Images of the children seen by the NPO Reports show that they appear kwashiorkor-striken.
After being injected with the unknown substances, the men then take them out seeking financial assistance for medical bills.

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“These men get minors from villages, get a medical doctor to allegedly inject them with substances that make their stomach swell outrageously, and parade them in road traffic as critically sick, to get alms from motorists,” revealed SP Benjamin Hundeyin, spokesman of the command of the police in Lagos.
Hundeyin said investigation are still ongoing, just as he advised parents to be careful who they hand over the children to.

NPO

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Solution Team Task Force Brutalises Mother in Son’s Presence, Steals N300,000 + photos

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The task force members bruised both hands

Francisca Adaobi (not real name) and her son were heading to All Saints Cathedral, Awka Road, Anambra State, on the morning of September 24 when a task force team stopped them and assaulted her until she bled.

Her son, who wishes not to be named for safety reasons, told FIJ that he was at the scene and confirmed a member of the Solution Team Task Force brutalised his mother.

According to him, the task force team also stole N300,000 and asked for a bribe before absconding.

“We left home around 9:50 am on Saturday, September 24th, headed to the church, All Saints Cathedral, on Awka Road. So, from the expressway, there was traffic congestion and people were going on their way. We also passed about two police checkpoints before we diverted into the street,” Adaobi’s son narrated.

“On our way, we reached a restaurant called 5 Star, members of the taskforce accosted us inside a white minibus. There were about six or seven of them. They had thrown some tyres on the road to prevent us from moving forward. But other people were driving past us and they (the task force) allowed them.”

The task force officials tore the victim’s dress as they assaulted her

The task force team told Adaobi and her son that they were violating the environmental sanitation curfew.

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On designated Saturdays, the state government restricts Anambra residents from moving on the roads till 10 am. This curfew ensures people stay at home and observe a mandatory environmental sanitation exercise.

The task force team claimed that Adaobi and her son broke the curfew, but, according to her son, the same team allowed other motorists to move around them.

“Vehicles were passing, so I don’t know how it was only us that were violating the sanitation law. When this commotion was happening, about three or four of them jumped into our vehicle. I had about N300,000 cash with me inside the car. That money was stolen in the process,” said Adaobi’s son.

Damage done to the victims’ vehicle

“Someone also took my phone, which I later saw with one of them. I had to fight that person to recover my phone immediately. But we did not realise the money was missing until we started searching for it. We searched and found out that our money was missing. N300,000!”

“According to them, they were sent on the job by the governor. When all this was going on, they started asking us for money. They wanted N20,000 as a bribe so that they would let us go. We refused to give them the money and they started struggling with us. They asked us to follow them, but they did not tell us where we were going to.”

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Adaobi and her son refused to follow the task force officials. According to the son, it all seemed they were up to something and he was not ready to go to an unspecified location.

The struggle to take over the vehicle from its owners led to damages on the car and grievous bodily harm on Adaobi. FIJ obtained pictures and footage which showed Adaobi’s bloodied hands.

“They tried to get the keys of the vehicle and ensure that they did some damage to the vehicle. Immediately they assaulted her, they disappeared,” Adaobi’s son told FIJ. He also told FIJ that the team, armed with sticks, was led by one Chukwudi, also known as Omaliko.

Adaobi’s children went to Central Police Station, Onitsha, to report the assault. They wrote and submitted a statement, but a policewoman asked them to pay N20,000 before the police would take up the case.

FIJ contacted Remi Adeoye, Onitsha Divisional Crime Officer, and he said that he would contact the Divisional Police Officer (DPO). Adeoye claimed that the DPO would never ask for money before working on a case.

“I will get across to the DPO. The DPO will never ask them for money. Let them go to the DPO and complain that they were asked to bring money,” Adeoye told FIJ.

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Lady’s Decomposing Body Dug Up in Kwara Doctor’s Office

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Adio Adebowale

Police in Kwara State have dug up the decomposing body of a yet-to-be-identified female buried in a shallow grave in the office of Adio Adebowale, Chief Medical Director of Kaiama General Hospital, Kwara State.

Okasannmi Ajayi, spokesman of the Kwara State Police Command, confirmed to FIJ that the police acted on a lead and gained entry to his office where they found the body in a shallow grave under concrete.

Shallow grave inside Adebowale’s office

He said the body belonged to a female, but her identity was yet to be ascertained.

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He also said the command would be looking forward to quizzing the doctor as he was facing homicide charges in Edo State as of the time of discovery.

Ajayi said, “We found the body, but we did not arrest him. He is not with us, as he is with the Edo State Police, where he is facing homicide charges.”

Adebowale, on September 3, allegedly murdered one Emmanuel Agbovinuere, a cab driver, by injecting him with a deadly substance, and he was paraded by the police on September 7. Speaking with the media on that day, Adebowale described Agbovinuere as a friend and begged his family to forgive him.

He said, “Let the police do their investigation. I am pleading with the family to forgive me. I have killed a friend. He was really my friend. I can show you our discussions on phone.”

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