Human rights group, Muslim Rights Concern has called for justice on behalf of the daughter of a broadcaster and other hijab wearing female candidates who were allegedly denied entry into Computer-Based Test centres in the ongoing Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME). The press statement of the organisation is presented below.
The daughter of a former ace broadcaster, Sulaiman Aledeh, was among several hijab-wearing female students who were denied entry at a JAMB examination center in Lagos yesterday.
This was revealed in a tweet sent by the ex-broadcaster at exactly 8 am on Thursday, 11 th April, 2019 on his twitter handle @aledeh, ‘My daughter is writing her @JAMBHQ today but she just called me now that she’s been asked to remove her hijab before she’s allowed in at the center at New Ocean School, Megida, Ayobo. Is that the rule please? She’s NOT the only one cos they’re from a MUSLIM school’.
Meanwhile, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has denounced the action of the JAMB invigilators and supervisors at the examination centers involved. MURIC’s condemnation was made known in a press statement signed by its Founder and Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
“We are aware of the refusal of some JAMB invigilators and supervisors to allow female Muslim candidates who wore hijab to the centers to sit for the examinations. This action is despicable, repugnant and barbaric. It is also illegal, unlawful, illegitimate and unconstitutional. When will Muslim-haters grow up? When will they become democracy-compliant? When will they respect the rule of law?
“The law says hijab is constitutional (Section 38 (i) and (ii)) but they will rather follow their whims and caprices. The Muslims of the South West are being taken for granted. Our love for peaceful coexistence and our reluctance to take the law into our hands is being mistaken for cowardice. But we will like to warn that there is a limit to patience.
“We remind Muslim haters in the South West that there are no more ‘stupid monkeys’ in Idanre. The only remaining monkeys over there are smarter than homo sapiens. Everyday may be for the oppressors and Muslim-haters but certainly there will be one day for the oppressed Muslims.
“This profiling of Muslims particularly through the denial of hijab rights has been on for a long time. The Muslim victims cry out daily. Many cases of hijab denial are in the courts. Yet the various state governments pretend as if nothing is happening. Worse still, the Federal Government has ‘decided not to interfere’. The message is very clear. The authorities are telling us that the fate of Muslims is in the hands of Muslims.
“MURIC therefore calls on Muslims in the South West to prepare for a long, intellectual and nonviolent struggle. Female Muslim students are hereby instructed to carry recording gadgets on their persons. We want all provocations, victimisations and acts of stigmatization to be secretly recorded wherever they occur because it will be impossible to get a conviction if there is no concrete evidence.
“We charge Islamic organisations, particularly the Muslim lawyers Association (MULAN), the Muslim Teachers Association (MUTAN), the National Council of Muslim Youth Organisation (NACOMYO), the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), The Muslim Congress (TMC) to re-engineer their mobilization strategies towards deflating this rising persecution ego among Muslim-haters in the sub-region. It is high time some fanatical Muslim-haters are made to face the full wrath of the law”.
The human rights organization also alleged that a male invigilator touched the female candidates in an improper manner at the same center under the guise of carrying out searches on candidates.
“We strongly object to the way a male invigilator touched all parts of the female candidates at the center under the guise of conducting searches. It is highly unprofessional, immoral, improper and paedophilic. Men should search male candidates while women officials search female candidates. That is the global best practice.
“We aver that improper touching has occurred in this circumstance and somebody must be held accountable for it. Most of the female candidates are underaged and their parents have entrusted them into the hands of JAMB as a social contract. It is child abuse. JAMB authorities have a duty to ask questions and get appropriate answers from the center.
“Those behind this victimization hide under official assignments to perpetrate their evil acts. Unfortunately, all the government institutions which they represent declare their actions illegal. For instance, all the examination bodies have declared that hijab is allowed in examination halls. But no ad hoc or permanent staff has been punished to date for stigmatizing female Muslim students.
“Are these authorities and examination bodies waiting for the time when Muslim youths will mobilise themselves, lay in ambush and take officials who victimize female Muslims to police stations? Who shall we blame at that point? Are the Muslims in the sub-region being pushed to the wall deliberately because some people want to flex muscles or score a religious or political point?
“Although some of the JAMB candidates were later allowed to enter after being made to stay outside for a long time, we still consider this measure as unfair, uncharitable and very provocative. Muslim candidates were delayed outside the examination hall while their Christian counterparts continued writing in an examination in which all the candidates will stop at the same time.
Is this fair? Is it just? Is it equitable? It will be difficult for female Muslim candidates who were intimidated outside the hall to gain their emotional balance immediately. It is also expected that candidates who were delayed outside while their colleagues had already started writing the examination have been disadvantaged. This is one of the methods being used by Christian officials to favour Christian candidates at the expense of their Muslim counterparts.
“It is also important to note that those who persecute female Muslim candidates in hijab have never attempted the same in any part of the North. Perhaps they know the expected consequence.
“We are placing it on record for the day when records will become priceless. More importantly, we are calling the attention of the whole world to the persecution being meted out to Muslims in South West Nigeria. Our detractors are adept at spreading false propaganda.
“Although they are the perpetrators of injustice, they are always the first to rush to the United Kingdom, the United States, the United Nations, etc. Also, they always find a way to sway media sentiment to their side. But we find solace in the knowledge that truth is constant and it will always overwhelm falsehood no matter how long.
“MURIC calls on the JAMB authorities to carry out full investigation into the victimization of female Muslim candidates at New Ocean School, Megida, Ayobo. The circumstances surrounding the improper, immoral and paedophilic searches by a male on underaged girls must also be investigated.
“Before we draw the curtain, we affirm that in view of the incessant violation of extant rules by staff and ad hoc workers and the continuous criminal molestation of female Muslim candidates, JAMB and other national examination bodies like the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) owe it a duty to issue memoranda and publish advertorials containing permission to female Muslim candidates to use hijab and a clear warning to invigilators and supervisors who disallow it. Only thus can the examination bodies assure Nigerians that they are not collaborators in the age-long persecution of Muslims in the South West.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)