All eyes are on Ogun State as schools in Nigeria resume for the second term of the 2022/2023 academic session on Monday, January 9, regarding the often intransigence and overzealousness of religious bigots among teaching staff over the use of hijab by Muslim ladies vis-a-vis the supreme court judgement on the matter.
Consequently, Governor Dapo Abiodun has warned secondary school principals and teachers from preventing any willing student from using hijab, stressing that any staff, teaching or non-teaching found culpable will face dire consequences.
The governor issued the warning through his Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Professor Abayomi Arigbabu during a pre-resumption meeting with all stakeholders, held on Friday, at Lisabi Grammar school, Idi-Aba, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Muslim News had earlier reported that the Ogun State League of Imams and Alfas under the leadership of Sheikh Sadrudeen Bamgbola (Chief Imam of Egbaland,) had directed Muslim students attending public schools in the State to adorn their hijabs on school uniforms from Monday 9th January, 2022 as they resume for 2nd term of the 2022/2023 session.
The league said in a statement signed by its Secretary General, Sheikh Tajudeen Adewunmi, on Tuesday that the use of hijab will begin on January 9, 2023, when students return for their second term.
The league also said only “desiring and willing female Muslim students could wear a white-coloured shoulder-length cape hijab as they resume for the second term of the 2022/2023 academic session on Monday, January 9, 2023, and henceforth without any fear of molestation or punishment.”
The government, however, cleared air on the matter at a meeting summoned by the Commissioner for Education Science and Technology, Professor Abayomi Arigbabu that was attended by zonal education officers, executives of principals, teachers and non-teachers associations across the State.
The Commissioner cautioned its staff in public schools from stopping any students from using hijab and anyone found culpable will face the consequences.
Multiple sources at the meeting said Professor Arigbabu asked the principals and teachers in the State public schools to focus on their official assignment of imparting knowledge and not preach religion or try to convert students to another religion.
According to the source, Professor Arignabu asked the representatives of the officials of Ministry of Education, principals, teachers and non-teachers to take the message to others in their various schools.
He told them that there is no circular that prevents the use of hijab in public schools and students should be allowed to practice the religion of their parents.
It would also be recalled that the Ogun State Muslim Council last month had asked the government of Ogun State to reverse what it referred to as “deliberate act of indoctrination, victimisation and forceful conversion of Muslim students in the State public primary and secondary schools.”
The Secretary General of OMC, Alhaji Kamaldeen Akintunde in a statement after the meeting, said the issues of concerns include compelling Muslim students in government-owned schools to take Christian Religious Knowledge(CRK), forcing them to remove their hijabs and participation in Christian fellowships on assembly grounds.
On the issue of compelling Muslim students to take CRK instead of Islamic Religious Studies (IRS), Akintunde said the Council received with dismay factual reports by its members that their wards are only having the option of taking Christian Religious Knowledge, CRK as against Islamic Religious Knowledge, IRK.
Ahead of resumption on Monday, the league of Imams and Allfas has set up help lines and monitoring team to note any victimization on the use of hijab in public schools.
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