Afe Babalola University: MURIC calls on NUC to investigate violation of Muslims’ rights

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An Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has called on the National Universities Commission (NUC) to investigate the incessant harassment, intimidation and violation of the fundamental human rights of hijab-wearing students by the authoriities of Afe Babalola University.

This follows reports of denial of the rights of female Muslim students of Afe Babalola University to use hijab, even as one of the lecturers of the institution attempted to force a female Muslim student to remove her hijab in a trending video while another threatened to film her.

MURIC made the demand on
Monday 20th November, 2023 in a statement by its Executive Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.

The statement reads :

“A video clip which emerged on socio media on Friday, 17thNovember, 2023 purportedly showed a lecturer at the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), filming a female Muslim student who wore hijab (https://www.intelregion.com/news/outrage-as-afe-babalola-university-lecturer-harasses-muslim-female-student-for-refusing-to-remove-her-hijab/).

“The lecturer’s action is egregious, outrageous and outrightly repugnant. It is indubitable stigmatization of the girl-child on account of her faith. Such stereotyping is most likely to force the victim to drop out of school due to the psychological trauma which is the attendant after-effect of the harassment.

“Just as there is no smoke without fire, we contend that the filming incident occurred a fortiori and as a corollary to the ban on hijab in ABUAD. Muslim students in ABUAD must be protected against a crackdown on Islamic activities and a vicious anti-hijab campaign.

“The ban on hijab contravenes Section 38 (i) & (ii) of Nigeria’s grundnorm which provides that ‘every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance’.

“No institution, tertiary, secondary or primary has the power to make rules or regulations which deny religious freedom or bans the use of hijab. This is because the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria makes the Nigerian Constitution the font et origo of all laws, rules, regulations, directives, memoranda, etc. As a result no rule emanating from any other source shall override its provisions.  

“Chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1(1) & (3) of the 1999 Constitution stipulates: ‘This Constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.’

“In particular, Section 1(3) says, ‘If any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail, and that other law shall to the extent of the inconsistency be void.’

“ABUAD school regulation (‘that other law’) which disallows hijab is therefore illegal, illegitimate, unlawful and unconstitutional to the extent of its inconsistency’. It is ultra vires, null and void.

“MURIC therefore calls on the National Universities Commission (NUC) to, without delay, investigate this incident in particular as well as the antecedental anti-hijab and anti-Muslim regulations of the university which served as catalysts to the lecturer’s action.  

“We also advise NUC to ensure that every individual or group, whether Muslim or Christian, seeking to establish a private university should be made to sign an undertaking guaranteeing religious freedom. In addition, NUC should review the approval clauses of all existing private institutions in the country, whether owned by Muslims or Christians, with a view to making them sign the same undertaking. This is necessary because private institutions are behaving as if they have the power to change the faith of their students as they wish.

“Nonetheless, we recall that we warned Muslim parents in November 2023 to avoid Christian private universities because of their proclivity to encroach on Allah-given fundamental human rights of Muslim students (https://muslimrightsmuric.blogspot.com/2022/11/muric-to-nigerian-muslims-avoid.html; https://dailypost.ng/2022/11/24/avoid-christian-private-universities-in-nigeria-muric-warns-muslims/).

“Although this should not become a licence for individual Christians or groups who establish private universities to exploit or persecute Muslim children, some of those ugly incidents are avoidable if Muslim students and their parents shift attention from Christian private institutions to federal universities and, admittedly, the few Muslim private institutions.”

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