The Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, on Tuesday called for an immediate ‘call to bar’ exercise to be organised for Firdaus Amasa, the Law School graduate who was denied entry to the same ceremony last Wednesday.
At a press conference organised by MURIC on Tuesday in Iba-Estate, Lagos, the organisation called for a judicial inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the molestation of Muslim students who were allegedly forced to remove their hijab at the call to bar ceremony.
The group also demanded a review of the code of dressing in the Nigerian Law School as it affects the ‘manifestation’ of religious beliefs, calling on the Nigerian National Assembly to intervene in the matter.
Ms. Amasa was last Wednesday refused entry into the call to bar ceremony for refusing to remove her Hijab.
The incident has attracted considerable attention among Nigerians, who are divided on the stance of the Council of Legal Education and the affected graduate.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, had threatened to stage nationwide protests if the issues were not addressed. The organisation also said it would consider legal actions if its demands were not considered.
MURIC at its conference on Tuesday demanded an investigation by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) into allegations of religious stigmatisation in the Nigerian Law School, stressing that there is need for a general reform of the school.
“The Nigerian Law School’s action is deplorable, reprehensible and preposterous. The very school where human rights lawyers are trained to respect human dignity is not expected to be the very first institution to dehumanise Nigerian citizens. There is no hope for the rule of law in Nigeria if the Law School’s decision is allowed to stand,” the organisation said.
“Just like a scene from apartheid South Africa when blacks were derided and disallowed from entering restaurants, swimming pools used by whites or to attend social events, Muslims are being targeted for discriminatory practices in Nigerian institutions. Stigmatisation of the adherents of Islam is the order of the day. Muslims cannot get international travel documents without being humiliated. They cannot obtain driving licences without being profiled.”
The organisation said Muslims have strong basis for using the hijab, adding that there are scriptural evidences from Quran that support the claim.
It explained further that Ms. Amasa was not dancing to her whims and caprices by using the hijab but simply obeying her Creator.
“The Law School’s ill-treatment of Muslims would not have been exposed if Firdaus Amasa had succumbed to intimidation like other Muslims had done in the past because it has now come to public knowledge that this has always been the practice in the Law School every year,” it said.
“In actual fact, two other Muslim sisters who wore hijab under their wigs on that day would also have been denied call to bar had they refused to remove their hijabs when ordered to do so. An official seized one of the hijabs after the Muslim lady (not Firdaus, but name withheld) had removed it, threw it on the floor in the presence of guests and trampled upon it! What level of hatred could have caused this? It is not only disgraceful but highly abominable. The Nigerian Law School has become a den of Muslim-haters. An institution that is expected to train minds in revolutionary reforms is the same championing segregation among citizens. It is archaic, parochial and reactionary.”
PREMIUM TIMES could not immediately get the reaction of the Law School to the allegation of harassment of the said Muslim lady.
However, the organisation called on women liberation groups in the country to rise to the occasion, adding that the National Assembly (NASS) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) should investigate the matter.
Making reference to what obtains in Kenya, the group said the system is “liberal and accommodating with Muslims,” even though Kenya, like Nigeria, is a former British colony.
“We demand full integration and full recognition as bona fide citizens of Nigeria, not second or third class citizens. We are the aggrieved party. The British most brutally and most unjustly took all we had from us, giving us nothing in return and offering no relief. It has continued to give us a feeling of rejection, marginalisation, denial of the dividends of democracy and lack of a sense of belonging. The time for redress is now.
“Although the Nigerian Law School has provoked us, we are making our demands peacefully now without issuing threats. These are dividends of democracy that have not been allowed to reach Muslims. The time to give them is now. Boko Haram militants may have adopted the wrong method but we believe these grievances are nursed by all Muslims. We must avoid another pogrom.”
The group also urged the Law School and other Nigerian institutions to desist from actions capable of militarising religious and ethnic groups, adding that its motto is ‘Dialogue, Not Violence’.