Religious crisis is looming in University of Ibadan International School, the secondary school of Nigeria’s premier varsity over the alleged denial of female Muslim students in the institution the right to wear Hijab (head scarf), by the principal of the school, Mrs. Phebean Olowe.
In a petition addressed to parents of the affected students under the auspices of International School Ibadan Muslim Parents’ Forum, they argued that “Hijab wearing for young Muslim girls, apart from the fact that it is part of their religious belief, is part of their God given fundamental human right as well as the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
The parents in the petition entitled “Notification of Muslim parents’ resolution on Hijab for our Muslim girls in ISI”, signed by Alhaji Abdurrahman Balogun (Chairman) and Mrs. Bilikis Badiru (Secretary), maintained that there were two Court of Appeal judgments affirming that the use of hijab is a fundamental right in Nigeria under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, hence the management of the institution should desist from denying their wards the right to use Hijab in the school.
The duo in the petition, copies which were also sent to: Chancellor of University of Ibadan and Sultan of Sokoto, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, The Chairman, ISI Parents Teachers Association, ISI, Vice – Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Deputy Vice – Chancellor (Academic), University of Ibadan, Registrar, University of Ibadan, Chairman, University of Ibadan Muslim Community, Chief Imam, University of Ibadan Muslim Community, Minister, Federal Ministry of Education, Commissioner, Oyo State Ministry of Education, Executive Secretary, Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN), Chairman, Muslim Community of Oyo State, President, Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), President, Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria (MULAN), President, Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN), President, Nigeria Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), President, Muslim Rights Council (MURIC) and Chairman, Hijab Advocacy Groups, remarked that the use of Hijab, for Muslim girls, was now a global phenomenon irrespective of personal or professional callings; student, lawyer, nurse, Doctor, security personnel, teacher among others, who willingly adorn it.
The duo said, “On behalf of ISI Muslim Parents Forum we extend our warm greetings to you and other members of the school management. Over the years, the forum has wondered why our willing Muslim girls have not been adorning the head scarf (Hijab) in line with their religious belief just as their counterparts elsewhere do.
“Hijab wearing for young Muslim girls, apart from the fact that it is part of their religious belief, is part of their God given fundamental human right as well as the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Part of what distinguishes an institution is the ability to demonstrate a high level of tolerance of the rights of every child, including female Muslim children; one of which is the use of Hijab as desired by their parents, enjoined by their faith( Islam) and also permitted by the constitution of the federal government of Nigeria.
“It is our considered opinion and resolution that the school authority should not disallow or discourage willing Muslim girls who wish to wear uniformed mini hijab to protect their chastity in line with their religious belief. A mini-hijab is a piece of cloth covering the head, side face and neck neatly blended. This is personal and has no effect on other fellow students.
“Our resolution is premised on the ground, inter alia; that section 38 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees right to freedom of religion including the right to manifest religious belief within the ambit of the law. Using a mini-hijab to cover the head is a manifestation of and a fundamental requirement of our children’s religion.
“That the fact that a Muslim girl not using the hijab in ISI is a mere tradition (a colonial heritage) without a justification in the school dressing code and That such a tradition cannot override the provision of section 38 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999 CFRN).
“Moreover, there are two Court of Appeal judgments affirming that the use of hijab is a fundamental right in Nigeria under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The use of Hijab, for Muslim girls, is now a global phenomenon irrespective of personal or professional callings; student, lawyer, nurse, doctor, security personnel, teacher among others, who willingly adorn it.
“The Body of Benchers in Nigeria recently endorsed the use of mini-hijab not only at the call to the bar ceremony but also at the Nigeria law school and indeed in the legal practice. We wish to let you know that there were brilliant female Muslims students who have refused to come to ISI because of its perceived no hijab doctrine. Our children have, up to this time, suffered undue psychological stress due to the fact that their natural mode of dressing has hitherto been denied when in school.
“We are mindful of the need to maintain uniformity and moderation in line with the dress code of the school and have taken appropriate measures to ensure this. This Forum hereby puts the school management on notice of this resolution on the rights of our female children to commence the use of Hijab from this academic session of 2018/2019. “We are ready to shed more light on this resolution should opportunity arises. May ISI grow from strength to strength in peace, unity, fairness and justice. Ameen”.