One of Nigeria’s leading Islamic organisations, The Muslim Congress (TMC), has joined other Islamic organisations to praise the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba over the recent approval of hijab on the uniform of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) for any willing female officers.
The body noted that the move is not only an indication of meeting with international practices but also a show of respect for religious and cultural freedom.
This is contained in a statement issued on Wednesday, March 16 by its Amir (President), Alhaji AbdulWasiu Taiwo Bangbala
The Nigerian Police Force had on March 4, 2022 announced the approval of the use of what it termed a mini hijab by willing female officers of the force.
The news has been greeted with shouts of acclamation from the local Muslim community following years of agitation for an inclusive workforce that recognises the religious rights of men and women in the police and armed forces.
According to Alhaji Bangbala, “The Muslim Congress commends the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba, for his courage to sanction the new dress code while urging the authorities not to give in to the machinations of naysayers who are already calling for the decision to be rescinded.
“It is not surprising that the whimper of protest against the newly approved dress code is coming from some elements who only revel in stoking up hysteria that touches on our socio-political fault lines.
“With this move, the Nigeria Police has proven that it is changing with the times, as have a number of police and military organisations across the world that have modified their uniforms to accommodate the hijab in recognition of the diverse backgrounds of their workforce.
“In the West, that is often considered a paradigm of near-perfect system, the use of head-covers by female Muslim officers has become commonplace under revised uniform rules that now allow for every qualified officer to serve regardless of their faith background.
“The decision approving the wearing of the hijab as part of uniform of female Muslim officers is indeed a welcome development and even more symbolic given that the wearing of hijab these days, rather than being a symbol of faith and piety, has, ironically, become a trigger for discrimination and abuse of Muslim women.
“This decision, therefore, highlights that wearing the hijab is an exercise of Muslim women’s freedom of religion and free expression as constitutionally enshrined as part of their inalienable rights. It is important that anyone who has a calling to serve and protect the lives and properties of Nigerians, and passes the rigorous recruitment and police training standards, feels welcomed and not discriminated against regardless of their faith, tribe or culture”, he noted.
He further charged the Muslim female officers not to rest on their laurels in discharging their duties while upholding a high sense of modesty.
“This new policy need not be viewed from being symbolic and politically correct alone, but as part of the larger effort to create a truly inclusive society where religion and culture are respected and protected, thereby forming a truly civil and peaceful society.
“We are assured that Muslim women in the police force will continue to prove their mettle, disprove some of the baseless notions seemingly portraying the head-cover or hijab as a fly in the ointment. We implore our Muslim female officers to continue to maintain a high sense of modesty and professionalism, not just with their newly approved uniform but also in discharging their duties”, he advised.
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