By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
The Lagos State government on Wednesday 13th November 2018 issued a circular approving the use of hijab by female Muslim students in all public schools.
The circular reads inter alia, “Since the case of the use of hijab in Lagos State is still pending in the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the status quo should be maintained to avoid contempt of the court. That is, students should be allowed to wear hijabs on school uniforms but same must be short, smart, neat and in the same colour of the uniform (skirt).
“Furthermore, schools’ managements are advised to downplay comments and disciplinary actions on the use of smart hijabs until the final determination of the case by the Supreme Court.
“No student should be discriminated against in any form on the basis of religion. All principals and teachers must be sensitized to comply accordingly. You are enjoined to adhere strictly to these recommendations”.
In a terse statement issued on Wednesday 14th November, 2018, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) hailed the state government for taking the decision.
According to Professor Ishaq Akintola who signed the statement, “Though belated, it is better to be late than never to do it at all. The wind of change is sweeping across the South West and no state government wants to be caught within the camp of reactionaries.
“We call on all government agencies and employers of labour to note this development. It is a monumental decision. The patience exhibited by Lagos Muslims has paid off. A quiet and peaceful revolution is ongoing and it is in the best interest of all men and women of goodwill to join the train before it leaves the station so that they may not be left behind.
“Reports reaching MURIC headquarters say the Tutor General Permanent Secretary (TGPS) of District 6 has also issued a circular directing all school principals within the jurisdiction to allow female Muslim students who wish to use the hijab to do so. We are yet to hear anything from Districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. We are therefore calling on the remaining five TGPS to follow suit. Delay will imply insurbodination and sabotage of government’s good intention.
“We congratulate the Lagos State chapters of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), the Muslim Congress (TMC), the Muslim Teachers Association of Nigeria (MUTAN) and the Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN). We commend them for their steadfastness, patience and forbearance.
“In conclusion, we charge all the Islamic organizations in the state to immediately set up monitoring units for the successful implementation of the state government’s directive. Muslim parents should be mobilized to visit schools for the purpose of ensuring compliance. We warn that nobody should take the law into his or her hands. Defaulting principals and recalcitrant teachers should be reported to the nearest office of Islamic organizations.