Five students of Isolo Senior Secondary School have reportedly been sent home by their principal for putting on hijab (Muslims head cover) to school, according to a report by Daily Post.
However, the President of the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria in Lagos State, Alhaji Saheed Ashafa, has condemned the ejection of five students calling the action discriminatory.
Ashafa blamed the Akinwunmi Ambode-led Lagos State Government for the situation, accusing it of failing to enforce a court order which was in favour of hijab.
He noted that after being sent out of school on Wednesday, the students converted a tricycle popularly known as ‘Keke Napep’ to their classroom.
The Principal, Mrs. J O Sadare, had last Friday allegedly announced at the assembly ground that students should not wear hijab to school.
After the announcement, some of the students wore the hijab to school and were given a letter to come with their parents on Tuesday.
When the students got to the school with their parents, the principal allegedly walked them out of her office after their insistence that their daughters must put on the hijab.
Narrating the incident, Ashafa said: “The entire drama started on Friday in the school when the Principal announced to the students that no one is allowed to wear hijab in the school.
“Surprisingly for her, some of the students still wore the hijab to school on Monday. She gave the students letters to invite their parents to school. In the letter, she threatened that the students will not be allowed into the school without their parents.
“When she shared the letter, a majority of students fidgeted and agreed to stop wearing the hijab. She collected the letters and let go of those ones, but about five of them refused to return the letter. When we were contacted, we asked the parents to honour the Principal’s invitation.
“They went there with our (MSSN) representatives but were embarrassed by the Principal, who gave them the option of either their children’s education or religion. She eventually walked them out of her office after they insisted that their daughters must put on the hijab.
“The parents subsequently proceeded to the Education District in charge of the school and they were assured that something would be done. With the hope that her (the Principal) superiors should have spoken with her to realise that what she was doing was wrong with the subsisting Appeal Court judgement, the students went to school on Wednesday (today) and were still prevented from entering the school.
“These are Senior Secondary School Two and Three students who need to study hard for their examinations. When we got to the school this morning, we saw some of the students copying notes for lessons they have missed on Monday and Tuesday while the others were teaching themselves old lessons inside a tricycle on the street.
“This is disastrous for us. While there colleagues were in the classrooms learning, they were on the street just for being Muslims. As we speak, the assistant head girl, who is one of the students that refused to put off her hijab has been removed and replaced.”
Ashafa explained that the Lagos State Government has continuously disobeyed the Court of Appeal ruling granting the use of hijab in schools.
“We wish to inform the general public that we have been very peaceful on this matter. Even when some of the principals harassed our members, we go there to engage them amicably. We will not allow this to stay. This Principal must be sanctioned, removed and the students must return to school immediately.
“As a law-abiding student-based organisation, we approached the Court of law on the usage of hijab by students. At the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja on October 17, 2014, Justice Modupe Onyeabo banned the use of hijab in public primary and secondary schools in Lagos State.
“But we headed to the Court of Appeal. A five-man special appellate court panel, presided by Justice A.B. Gumel, on July 21, 2016, overruled the October 17, 2014 judgment of Justice Modupe Onyeabo of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja, which banned the use of hijab in public primary and secondary schools in Lagos State.
“While striking down Justice’s Onyeabo’s verdict, the Justice Gumel panel held that the ban on hijab was discriminatory against Muslim pupils in the state.
“Dissatisfied with the decision of the appellate court, the Lagos State Government approached the Supreme Court after failing to secure a Stay of Execution, but no judgment has been delivered yet. In law, where there is no other contrary judgement, the subsisting judgement remains valid.
“Thus, the ongoing harassment of our members is not only unconstitutional, an infringement, but also a contempt. Again, we repeat that this will never be allowed to stay. We will give this lawless, anti-democratic and anti-masses government what it wants and likes to witness.”