The Lagos State Government has denied that it has banned Hijab in public schools in the state, saying it was rather still consulting on the matter with a view to taking a stand on it.
The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Lateef Ibirogba, said in a statement on Monday the government was still making wide consultations on the issue.
Mr. Ibirogba said, “To avoid a needless heightening of tension, Lagosians, particularly the Muslim faithful, are advised not to allow people with diabolic intentions to trivialise the issue of sustaining the peaceful coexistence among diverse groups in the state.
“Contrary to reports, government was still meeting with the stakeholders on the issue as explained by the Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye, and has, thus, not banned or disallowed Hijab in public schools.
“What Olayinka explained at the briefing was that the government had held meetings with some key stakeholders and would still consult widely before taking a position.”
The Lagos state Government had through its Commissioner for Education, Olayinka Oladunjoye, on Tuesday last week announced a ban on Hijab for Muslim female students in all its public schools, sparking what seems a religious controversy in the state.
“The state has banned the use of Hijab in public schools, that the student can only wear hijab during Salat – Muslim prayer, or when they want to read the Qur’an,” Mrs Oladunjoye was quoted as saying. “That any parent who wishes that his/her child must wear hijab should take such child to a Muslim private school.”
Muslim groups in the state promptly rose up in protest, with some threatening showdowns with the government.
The Obafemi Awolowo University Muslim Graduates Association (UNIFEMGA) was quick in condemning the ban, saying through a statement by its National President, Prof. Wahab Egbewole and Abdur-Rahman Balogun, National Public Relations officer, that the policy was a breach of the fundamental rights of the students to practice their religion.
The National Council of Muslim youth organisations, NACOMYO, Lagos State chapter, also said in a statement that the ban represented “the hypocritical nature of the state government, but equally represents a lack of a common sense of duty and an attempt by the government to neglect the basic duty of governance of providing egalitarian society where human virtues and dignity are allowed to thrive”.