Group Calls On Governor Fashola To End Discrimination Of Muslim Women in Lagos

Group Calls On Governor Fashola To End Discrimination Of Muslim Women in Lagos

The Movement for Islamic Culture and Awareness (MICA), an association of Muslim professionals and undergraduates, has thrown its weight behind the calls for justice for Miss Aisha Alabi, a 12-year old student who was flogged over 43 times by Mrs. E. C. Ukpaka, the Principal of her school, for adhering to her faith.

Calling for an end to discrimination and ill-treatment of Muslim women and girls, the outraged MICA called on Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, to investigate the incident and ensure justice under the 1999 Constitution and the Laws of Lagos State.

“Miss Alabi’s alleged offence was that she ‘dared’ to wear the hijab, a mandatory modesty covering for Muslim women,” MICA said in a statement signed by its Executive Secretary, Sulaiman Olokodana.  “It did not matter to Mrs. E. C. Ukpaka that Aisha wore the hijab after official school hours or that the choice to wear a hijab is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution of 1999, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

It stressed that the actions of Mrs. Ukpaka not only constitute an infringement on Sections 34(1)(a), 38 and 39 of the 1999 Constitution but is also illegal under the Laws of Lagos State which banned the flogging of students and apprentices in 2011. “By flogging Miss Alabi, Mrs. Ukpaka abrogated Miss Alabi’s right not to be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment; her right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and her right to freedom of expression.”

The group reminded Governor Fashola that when his administration passed the law outlawing the ‘caning, beating or physical torture of school students, and of workplace apprentices’, it was celebrated as ‘one of the most constructive, progressive and profoundly humanitarian initiatives ever set forth into law by any elected official in Nigeria since independence.’

It regretted that less than two years later, the same law is being flouted in a most egregious manner and despite the peaceful, orderly and legitimate protests embarked upon by members of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (Lagos Chapter) to register their displeasure over same matter, drawing attention to the slow and unsure response of the government .  The group condemned that attitude as “most unfortunate” as it gives the impression that despite the unambiguous protections of the law – females, Muslims, young persons are not considered to be citizens of Nigeria deserving of this protection.

“Our national anthem reflects our collective yearning for a nation ‘bound in freedom, peace and unity,’” MICA stressed.  “When we allow discriminatory practices to flourish and go unchallenged, we in turn undermine our freedoms, diminish our peace and put unity even more firmly beyond our reach.” Expressing the belief that this is not the impression the Lagos State Government wants to portray, the group urged Governor Fashola, Deputy Governor, Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Lagos State Attorney General Ade Ipaye and other stakeholders to act on its request without delay.

In addition to the quest for justice for Miss Alabi, MICA is urging the government to review administrative policies and programs that inhibit religious pluralism; to consult with and convey a summit of faith leaders to identify and address the concerns of various groups; and to take practical steps to uphold and facilitate the multi-religious status of Lagos State and implement/enforce programs and laws that protect vulnerable people from abuse and discrimination.

Full text of the statement:

A CALL TO END DISCRIMINATION AND ILL TREATMENT OF MUSLIM WOMEN AND GIRLS

Lagos, Nigeria The Movement for Islamic Culture and Awareness (MICA); an association of Muslim professionals and undergraduates, lends its voice and outrage to the calls for the attention of H.E., Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola to intervene in the matter of Miss Aisha Alabi, a 12 year old student flogged over 43 times by the Principal of her school for adhering to her faith. We request Governor Fashola to:

    Investigate and ensure justice under the 1999 Constitution and the Laws of Lagos State;

    Review administrative policies and programs that inhibit religious pluralism;

    Consult with and convey a summit of faith leaders to identify and address the concerns of various groups; and

Miss Alabi’s alleged offence was that she ‘dared’ to wear the hijab, a mandatory modesty covering for Muslim women. It did not matter to Mrs. E. C. Ukpaka that Aisha wore the hijab after official school hours or that the choice to wear a hijab is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution of 1999, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The actions of Mrs. Ukpaka not only constitute an infringement on Sections 34(1)(a), 38 and 39 of the 1999 Constitution but also an illegal act under the Laws of Lagos State which banned the flogging of students and apprentices in 2011. By flogging Miss Alabi, Mrs. Ukpaka abrogated Miss Alabi’s right not to be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment; her right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and her right to freedom of expression.

When Lagos State, under Governor Fashola’s administration, passed the law outlawing the ‘caning, beating or physical torture of school students, and of workplace apprentices’, the law was hailed as ‘one of the most constructive, progressive and profoundly humanitarian initiatives ever set forth into law by any elected official in Nigeria since independence.’ However less than two years later, the same law is being flouted in a most egregious manner and despite the peaceful, orderly and legitimate protests embarked upon by members of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (Lagos Chapter) to register their displeasure over same matter, we note, with concern, the slow and unsure response by the Lagos State Government (LASG). This is most unfortunate, because it gives the impression that despite the unambiguous protections of the law – females, Muslims, young persons are not considered to be citizens of Nigeria deserving of this protection.

Our national anthem reflects our collective yearning for a nation ‘bound in freedom, peace and unity’. When we allow discriminatory practices to flourish and go unchallenged, we in turn undermine our freedoms, diminish our peace and put unity even more firmly beyond our reach.

We, at MICA, are sure that this is not the impression the LASG wants to portray and as such we urge Governor Fashola, H.E.; the Deputy Governor, Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, the Attorney General of Lagos State, Mr. Ade Ipaye and other stakeholders to act on our request without delay.

Signed on behalf of the Movement for Islamic Culture and Awareness

 

Sulaiman Olokodana

Executive Secretary

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