A Non Governmental Organisation, Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative has called on the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board to ensure that no lady is either harassed or embarrassed because of hijab in the coming examination.
The Director of HRAI, Mutiat Orolu-Balogun made this call shortly after submitting an official letter of complaints to the JAMB Registrar on Wednesday.
The call came on the heels of several reports of harassments of hijab adorning ladies during the recent data capturing and in the previous Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination UTME.
Orolu-Balogun said the move became necessary to ensure all parties concerned in the coming UTME are aware of their rights and limitations, with a view to preventing any harassment of candidates at examination centers.
She explained that the attempt was also to get the invigilators enlightened about the rights of the candidates and to prevent the breakdown of law and order where the deprived may take laws into their hands.
“At HRAI, our mandate is to protect the rights of the innocent Muslim ladies who have constantly been the targets of Islamophobes in Nigeria.
Speaking with the Renaissance shortly after submitting the letter to the Registrar, the Director said the Initiative has consequently launched an awareness campaign to ensure the fundamental rights of Muslims ladies are not eroded upon, before, during and after the conduct of the examination.
She described the campaign as a proactive measure to forestall any possibility of harassments of female students at examination centers across the country, from Saturday 13th to 20th May, 2017.
“HRAI has over the years recorded incidences of high-handedness of the invigilators of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board examinations.
We heard that some Muslim ladies were mandated to remove their hijabs before they were allowed to write the exams.
We equally have situations where candidates who challenged the illegal order of overzealous JAMB officials were delayed during the 2016/2017 session.
Also, Similar experiences were also recorded during the data capturing exercise this year.
We have therefore launched an awareness campaign across the country, in readiness for the UTME, because such harassments have led to psychological trauma which eventually affected candidates’ performances in the exams.”
Orolu-Balogun said there shall be close monitoring of examination centers by members who have volunteered their contacts in the animations that were purposely created on social media for the campaign.
“Consequently, we have also made illustrations and animations for this campaign, especially on social media platforms and we have encouraged everyone to download them and spread the message across their contacts,” Balogun disclosed.
Hijab as Arab culture?
Addressing the unpopular notion that hijab is a mere Arab culture foisted on Muslim ladies, Orolu-Balogun said, it is the fundamental right of a Muslim lady to publicly profess, express and practice her religion, and this includes wearing the hijab, a right that is well enshrined in the constitution.
She said infringement on such rights constitute a crime that will be challenged in a competent court of law if any JAMB official decide to take laws into his or her hand.
By Shifau Bello