Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN) has told Lagos State governorship candidates that the criteria to get its votes would be the unconditional approval for female students to wear hijab in schools.
“We have been very careful in taking a position on the governorship election in Lagos state, but something is clear – we will not support any candidate that will pose a challenge to the use of hijab by our members in schools or deny any of our rights,” head of MSSN in Lagos Saheed Ashafa said in a statement.
Hijab wearing in schools has been a subject of public discuss in Lagos for the last 4 years. A Lagos high court in October 2014, ruled against the use of hijabs in schools. The judgement was upturned by an appeal court in July 2016.
Lagos state government then approved the use of hijab for female students in public schools.
The group, however, reiterated its stance on the continuous use of hijab in schools as the 2019 election approach, amidst change in government.
Ashafa, who spoke at the ongoing 106th Islamic Vacation Course at the Human Capital Development Center, Noforija, Epe, Lagos said assaults on school children over the use of hijab is a violation of their fundamental rights.
“MSSN Lagos is not a political organisation but millions of our members are qualified voters. We have sensitised them enough to get their Permanent Voters Cards and the need to be peaceful during the election.”
Ashafa warned school administrators against punishing students who wear hijabs, as their action could malign the peaceful coexistence of people of different faiths in Lagos state.
He said tremendous progress has been made on the matter so far and that the MSSN would not relent.
“First, we are in court. We are a group of people who are civilised. We know the implication when a matter is still in court and the implication of working contrary to that. However, every assault that happens in Lagos is taken up by the society.”
“Probably people think we will take to the street and create chaos in the society. We are not going to go that way. We will follow the constitutional procedures to make our case,” Ashafa said.
Ashafa urged the “candidates to engage in an issue-based campaign and avoid maligning others. We are interested in the ideas that these candidates have to solve the country’s challenges and defamation of character.”
He said the recent removal of a vice principal of Army Cantonment Girls in Ojo, Lagos due to an assault on a student wearing hijab is a step in the right direction.