...Seeks vigilance of anti-Islamic incidents
A leading public service and leadership development organisation in Nigeria, Muslim Public Affairs Center (MPAC) has described Bishop David Oyedepo’s Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State as an incubation center for promoting religious intolerance.
The Director of the organisation, Mal. Kamor Disu, in his reaction to the recent barring of Muslim students wearing hijab from entering the institution’s campus, said the Covenant University management refused to take full responsibility for its unruly action and take corrective actions.
He, therefore, urged the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to be vigilant of cases of anti-Islamic incidents in the institution during its Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).
Mal. Disu recalled that after the incident which occurred on March 30 during the UTME mock examination, MPAC was swift into action by writing a petition to the JAMB office twice, insisting on securing the rights of the victims and sanctions against the erring University.
According to him, “The petition elicited a response from JAMB, summarised as follows: 1) JAMB wrote to the Centre Administrator of Covenant University on the 31st of March, requesting an explanation of the unfortunate incident.
2) Covenant University replied on the 3rd of April 2023, that the candidates were not denied entry because they wore hijabs but rather, due to ‘security lapses’. And when the information got to the centre’s administrator, they were allowed into the university premises and the examination hall. The university also claimed other hijab-wearing candidates had earlier been allowed in.
3) JAMB responded to the university by sharing video and photo evidence already provided by complainants, showing otherwise. Also, those that were allowed in, had to remove their hijabs before gaining entry.
“Again, the University was reminded of the law according to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, stating respect for equality before the law, the dignity of the human person and freedom from discrimination for all citizens. JAMB, therefore, insisted that the Vice Chancellor of Covenant University should address the facts on the issue.
4) Covenant University seeing no other way around this, was forced to apologize, saying the erring security personnel were newly employed and acted in contravention of the university’s policy, ideas and ethos. Also, in the same breathe, the letter stated that the candidates were never asked to remove their hijab as a condition for entry.
He commended the board for acting responsively and asserted that the security personnel only acted according to the script.
“We appreciate JAMB’s robust response to this issue, including a clear instruction to report any issues relating to hijab discrimination at any of its accredited CBT centres nationwide, to a dedicated desk (see link below).
“The reluctant apology was tendered only to JAMB and not the affected candidates, who are the main victims, in the same way, that Covenant University is the main culprit, not the security personnel. Covenant University did not immediately issue a press release or address the public on the day of the incident, or immediately after, to dissociate itself from the actions of the “newly recruited” security personnel.
“We reiterate that Covenant University, under the guidance of its founder, Bishop Oyedepo, is an active incubation center for promoting religious intolerance, specifically Islamophobia. There is no way anyone will be primed with so many anti-Muslim diatribes and pure hate messages which he is well known for, that the person will not harbor animosity towards Islam and discriminate against Muslims. His Church sermons, many times, had become a rallying cry for his fans and supporters to despise Islam and his pulpit has been used to promote divisive views and unadulterated hatred directed against Islam and Muslims. The security personnel may be the triggermen, but someone handed them the guns!
“In our response to JAMB’s report on this issue, we have urged it to be vigilant against specific incidents of anti-Muslim biases, strengthen its policy on making its examination period entirely free of religious discrimination and prescribe sanctions against violation of freedom of religious practices.”
Mal. Disu called for the need to seek redress to such Islamophobic attacks.
“Islamophobia is a societal ill that requires dedication and collaboration to get rid of. The Nigerian constitution promises all citizens the same rights, which includes the rights to dignity, respect, freedom of religion and a society free of discrimination. Assault on the rights of any member of the society is an attack on the rights of all, as such, an assault defaces the society and misrepresents the people we are.
“We urge anyone facing religious discrimination in school, workplace, or anywhere else to report it. To report any form of religious discrimination to MPAC. Contact us through any of our platforms or our social media pages.”
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