The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has urged 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.
The MURIC Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, made the call on Thursday in a statement.
“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.
“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.
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“It is also an act of willful disobedience to constituted authority particularly coming after the state government had issued a clear directive via an official circular that was given wide publicity. This forceful removal is reckless, thoughtless and barbaric,” Akintola said.
According to him, attacking female Muslim students for using hijab is child abuse and a 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.
Akintola lamented that the personal dignity of AbdulQadri was infringed upon when her hijab was snatched from her head on the school assembly, thus the principal should 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’.
He said, “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.
“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.”
The MURIC boss said that the school principal and teachers responsible for the act must not only be punished for their recalcitrance, they must be seen to have been adequately castigated to douse tension among Lagos Muslims.