The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), the umbrella body of Muslims across the country, has accused the management of the University of Ibadan of stifling the voices of Muslims on the campus and ostracising them during key decision-making processes on the campus.
NSCIA condemned the denial of female Muslim students at the International School, University of Ibadan the right to use Hijab in a statement signed by Aselemi Ibrahim, Head of Public Relations and Communication of the Council.
NSCIA while reacting on the backdrop of the incessant cases of allegation of harassment of Muslim pupils of the university’s International School over the use of Hijab, fixing of statutory academic and management meetings of the university for periods dedicated to Muslims’ Friday prayer, among other issues, said that the university under the current administration has made it a habit to discriminate against Muslim students in classrooms, and deny Muslim academic and non-academic staff from participating in key decision-making processes on the campus.
Ibrahim said, “It is rather unfortunate that University of Ibadan whose founding fathers championed the cause of scholarship by establishing the Centre for Arabic Documentation, introduced Certificate and Diploma programmes in Islamic Studies and Arabic, created Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies and tapped the resources of Arabic to create and enrich Ibadan School of History, is the same university being used by a bigot to eliminate the programmes, discourage Muslim girls from International School, Ibadan, segregate Muslims from Christians in the classrooms so that the latter can be given more attention, fix official meetings for the period of Friday worship and insisted Muslims must be de-Islamised before benefitting from a school established by the university.
“We insist Boko (western education) is halal (lawful) while the University of Ibadan is insisting on declaring Boko as haram. Lawmakers should initiate bills that would streamline and unambiguously legitimise the use of hijab in public institutions in the country.”
“The University of Ibadan has in the recent time been enmeshed in crises over religious issues especially following the opposition of the management of the institution’s staff school to the use of hijab by its Muslim pupils.
“Some Muslim parents have accused the management of denying the pupils what they called their inalienable right to religion, and staged series of protests to drive home their point.
“Under the umbrella of parents of Muslim students of University of Ibadan International School, a matter has been instituted against the school in a court of law. But while awaiting the judgement, the school had suspended a female student for two weeks for allegedly wearing hijab after school hours.
“In a similar development, about 38 Muslim professors from the university had also recently petitioned the Prof. Idowu Olayinka-led administration of the university over what they described as deliberate action of denying Muslims participation in various important statutory meetings.
“The professors said the university fixed its Senate meeting for Friday and that the meeting had extended beyond the time meant for Muslim Friday prayer.
“They said the tradition since the tenure of a former vice-chancellor, A.B Odediran, was that the hours of 12 noon to 3p.m should be free of any statutory academic and administrative activities on the campus, adding that the position was backed by a university’s special release of August 23, 2010, which they claimed banned lectures, meetings, and other statutory engagements on the campus.
“The university, however, denied the allegation, saying the meeting was not fixed for the time designated for Friday prayer.”
The use of Hijab had since November 2018, been generating a lot of controversies and crises, which made parents of some Muslim students to jointly sue the school, its principal, University of Ibadan and Chairman of the Board of Governors of the school who also doubled as Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the university.
The latest was the suspension of a female Muslim student in the school. The school in a letter, said it has suspended a female Muslim student, Miss Ikhlass Olasubomi Badiru, who was found by the school authority for wearing Hijab (headscarf) in July this year for two weeks.
The two weeks suspension according to a letter of suspension, signed by the School Principal, Phebean Olowe, a copy of which was obtained on Wednesday evening, takes effect between 7th and 18th October, 2019.