The state government in a circular released on Tuesday said that 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 were advised to downplay comments and disciplinary actions on the use of smart hijabs until the final determination of the case by the Supreme Court, the government warned that 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,” the statement said.
Reacting to the news, Director of MURIC, Prof Ishaq Akintola posited that 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.
He used the opportunity to call on all government agencies and employers of labour to note this development, as 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.
MURIC informed that the Tutor General Permanent Secretary (TGPS) of District6 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.
“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,” MURIC said.
The MSSN which had championed the use of hijabs and celebrated the decision, also said it was satisfied with the decision which comes a day after the international school of the University of Ibadan in neighbouring Oyo State was shut after some female students were stopped for wearing hijabs.
Amir (president) of the MSSN Lagos, Saheed Ashafa commended the Lagos State Government for upholding the rule of law through its approval of the use of hijab in public schools.
Extolling the gesture and the resoluteness of the state government in ensuring that avoidable strife do not find ways into the peaceful atmosphere being enjoyed in Lagos State, the MSSN said it was pleased with this development because the embarrassing way and manner in which its members have been victimized and harassed would stop.
“We have constantly told the state government that while a case on the hijab is awaiting final verdict at the Supreme Court, no teacher has the right to punish female pupils for wearing hijab.
“The Appeal Court in the case clearly states that wearing hijab by students, whether within or outside the school premises was a fundamental Human Right entrenched in the constitution.
“It is important to notify you that we will not allow further lawlessness and flagrant disregard for rule of law to stay after this circular. The circular would also help to stop the abuse of rights which could have degenerated into crisis or violence that may lead to the disruption of activities in schools in our dear state.
“We commend this intervention aimed at calling teachers, principals and tutor general to order. This circular approving wearing of hijab by students on their school uniform within and outside school premises, will ensure peace and order in our schools and stability in the state’s education system,” the statement read in part.
Ashafa subsequently encouraged female Muslim students to be confident, smart and neat while putting on the hijab.