Controversy trails Covenant University’s restriction of hijabi UTME candidates

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When some candidates intending to write the mock Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) at Covenant University last Thursday, they were delayed from entering the premises simply for adorning hijab.

In a 1:14 minute video seen by EduCeleb.com, about four candidates wearing hijab were stopped from going into the university.

These candidates were posted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to the centre on the campus in Otta, Ogun State owned by Bishop David Oyedepo, founder of Living Faith Church Worldwide.

A parent, Mr Olayode Akeem, who accompanied his child to the centre, said the security men prevented hijab-wearing candidates from entering the premises of Canaanland because they were acting on instruction from above.

Daily Trust reported that it took the intervention of JAMB before the candidates were allowed in after waiting outside for more than one hour.

Another source said: “I was at Convenant University on Friday and I witnessed it. A lady was told she can’t go in to write her mock exam or else she put off her hijab or turn it into scarf. This is the height of impunity. This is pathetic and should be addressed before the exam date.”

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Condemnations

This action of the university management has since attracted condemnations.

Several persons have taken to Twitter to condemn the action of the Canaanland, asking the JAMB to address the issue before the main examination day.

“I call on Dr Isaq OLOYEDE @JAMBHQ to look into this matter… The centre was given randomly why denying them of writing their exams…(sic) Christians do write JAMB in Alhikmah University Ilorin, Summit University in Offa and in Fountain University Oshogbo without any problem… It’s only oyedepo that has problem…,” a Twitter user Taiye Hassan said.

But Ago Ugbaja, another Twitter user, said: “It’s a private institution and that’s it!!! Go and sort it out with Oyedepo…. And JAMB.”

The Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative (HRAI) and the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), in separate statements, said some candidates had to remove their hijab before they were let in.

The HRAI said it got a distress call on Thursday from the father of a candidate, Mr. A. A. Olayode, that his daughter and several other candidates wearing hijab were barred from entering the Covenant University CBT centre for the mock Jamb examinations.

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The Executive Director of the organisation, Mutiat Orolu-Balogun, said the candidates were denied despite Mr Olayodes’s explanation to the security guards that as a national examination, candidates were posted there by the examination body and thus should be allowed to write their exams.

Also, MURIC Executive Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, urged the JAMB to sanction both universities for disallowing hijab-clad girls from entering their premises for Thursday’s mock examination.

“Those who cannot tolerate Muslim girls in hijab should not apply to host public examinations. Canaanland and Covenant have subjected Muslim girls to embarrassment, stigmatization and persecution,” Akintola said.

JAMB apologises

JAMB, in its weekly bulletin on Monday, apologised to the affected candidates and assured them of the opportunity to sit the rescheduled mock examination.

It noted that as an equal opportunity organisation, it would never condone any scintilla of discrimination against any entity or person.

“The general public is, therefore, given all necessary assurances that the Board would put necessary machinery in motion to ensure that such an incident does not reoccur in future,” it stated.

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