Hundreds of hijab (Muslim veil for women) wearing school pupils under the aegis of the Muslim Student Society of Nigeria, MSSN, yesterday, paralysed activities at the Alausa Secretariat, office of Governor of Lagos Babatunde Fashola over alleged flogging and victimization of two pupils by their principals for wearing Hijab, within and outside the school premises.
While Miss. Aisha Alabi, a 16-year-old pupil of Kadara Junior Grammar School, Ebutte-Metta, Lagos, was allegedly given many strokes of the cane by her principal, Mrs. E.C. Ukpaka, on February 5, 2013, Miss. Barirat Tajudeen of Mafoluku Senior Grammar school, was allegedly victimised by her principal, Mrs. Elizabeth Omidele, on February 20, 2013 for using the scarf outside the school premises.
The protesters who stormed the office of the Governor at about 10:00 a.m. barricaded the entire entrance to the Governor’s Office, obstructing free flow of traffic in the state seat of power saying, “we will not leave the entrance of the Governor’s office until we see the Governor, whom we voted for at the last general election.”
They displayed several placards with inscriptions like “Hijab is my identity; don’t take it away from me. Our Hijab is our freedom, Hijab should be part of our uniforms, Dressing without Hijab is incomplete, Hijab is a symbol of pride and honour, among others.” “All we want is that Hijab should be legalised as part of the school uniforms for Muslim students in the entire public school in the state. And the government should also recall Barirat, who was suspended, back to school with immediate effect.”
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, Assistance General-Secretary, Mr. Zikrulahi Sulaimon, said” “Enough of this maltreatment from our teachers and lecturers, this is not the first corporal punishment meted to school pupils. And we haven’t received any reasonable assurance from the state government that such act wouldn’t happen in the state again.”
At about 4:00p.m., the protesters yielded to the plea of government representatives led by the Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture, Mr. Oyinlomo Danmole, for a closed door meeting with 8-man delegation from them.
At the end of the meeting which lasted for over an hour, Danmole, assured the protesters that the government understood their plight and was already taking appropriate steps to ensure that such act did occur again in the state.