Hijab: Parents of Muslim students accuse UI school principal of intimidation

University of Ibadan International School.
University of Ibadan International School.

Parents of Muslim students at the International School, University of Ibadan, have accused the principal of the school, Phebean Olowe, of precipitating another crisis in the school through the alleged harsh treatment of female students demanding to be allowed to wear the hijab.

The International School Ibadan (ISI) Muslim Parents Forum made the accusation on Saturday in Ibadan.

The parents alleged that the school authorities were harassing female Muslim students for using the hijab outside the school.

The use of hijab in the school has since November 2018 been generating controversies, which made parents of some Muslim students sue the school, its principal, University of Ibadan and Chairman of the Board of Governors of the secondary school.

However, the Oyo State High Court on June 26 struck out the suit on the ground that the petitioners were not supposed to file the case jointly.

On Thursday, a parent, Idris Badiru, accused the principal, Mrs Olowe; the School Accountant identified as Mr Odewale and other staff of the school of maltreating his daughter, Ikhlas Badiru.

Mr Badiru told PREMIUM TIMES that despite the court pronouncement, it is illegal for the school to deny his daughter her right to wear hijab outside the school premises.

“Earlier this week, my children informed me of the principal’s decision to prevent students from wearing any adornment on the school uniform inside and outside the school premises. I found the outside part absurd and downplayed the information,” he said.

“On Wednesday, 3rd July 2019, I took my children to school and noticed a small crowd of students gathered about 80 metres to the school gate. My children promptly informed me that the Accounts section was checking payment clearance before allowing them in.

“The security man and Mr Odewale of the Accounts section were issuing some instructions. I, therefore, moved closer and learnt that they wanted my daughter to remove her Hijab before walking towards the gate and she refused.

“I felt enraged as any reasonable man would when his daughter’s honour is violated. Moreover, that space belongs to the University of Ibadan, a federal institution. That was Mr Odewale’s second time of harassing my daughter over the use of the Hijab.

“At the close of work on Wednesday, I picked my children from the school and was told that the Principal, Mrs Olowe, went to my daughter’s class to embarrass her.

“This morning, 4th July, I got to the gate and met a horde of UI security men and a couple of gun-wielding policemen at the same place. They had stopped my daughter from proceeding towards the gate. I enquired from the Unibadan Chief Security Officer, who led the team and he insisted that my daughter must remove her Hijab, far from the gate and on UI soil, before she could proceed further.”

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The Chairman of ISI Muslim Parents Forum, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, in a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday in Ibawarned MrsedMrs Olowe against precipitating a crisis in the school.

Efforts to get the reaction of the school principal since Thursday have been unsuccessful after she terminated a call to her line.

Immediately our correspondent introduced himself as a journalist, Mrs Olowe ended the call.

She also did not respond to an SMS sent to her line by our correspondent.

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