The management of the International School, University of Ibadan (ISI) has shut down the school until further notice.
The closure of the school was consequent upon the demand by Muslim Parents in the school who had written to the management of the International School and that of the university that their daughters in the school would be using a small shoulder length hijab.
In the presence of combined security teams of the Nigerian Police and UI security unit, the protesters who carried different placards such as “Stop the intimidation now”, “peaceful co-existence in saner clime” with images of foreign hijab-wearing students and their colleagues in a European High School.
Speaking with Osun Dailly, the Secretary of the Muslim Community in Oyo State, Imam Ismail Busayri expressed disappointment over the trends in the ISI by preventing students from using “small” hijab. Imam Busayri said in the Student handbook of the ISI, section 7, there is nothing that prohibits adorning hijab.
“to the managemnt of the ISI established on the soil of Premier University, which is expected to be a civil society, unfortunately at this time and age, when peaceful co-existence and the fundamental rights of especially the minority are being trampled upon. They have denied our girl children from access to basic education for almost a week now only because they adorn a shoulder length hijab.
We have come to appeal to the management of the school, the Federal Ministry of Education and the National Assembly to please enforce the rights of our children. We do think though we have checked the Article 7 of the Student Handbook, which is about uniform, there is nothing there that bans use of hijab.”
He added that the Nigerian constitution and the Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations are superior to the internal rule of any establishment and as such the ISI Muslim students should be allowed to use their hijab as stipulated by the constitution.
“Section 32 (2) of the 1999 constitution as amended allows a Muslim lady to adorn her hijab. We do think we are using the Common Law in Nigeria. But Common Law is not common to all; It favours some people and it is against some others.”
Imam Busayri argued that even in Europe where Nigeria copied its Law, Muslim ladies in those countries are allowed to use hijab and learn alongside their Christian counterparts.
He contended that the hijab the ladies were wearing does not sway them from being focused in their education as recent development has shown that the best graduates in Universities like Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, University of Ilorin among others are hijab wearingladies.
Responding to the allegation that the Hijab-wearing ISI students were locked in the library last week, the Oyo State Muslim Community Secretary said the community would take legal action against the school on the matter.
On the private ownership of the UI International School as claimed by the University authorities, Imam Busayri said such statement as baseless asking for saying that the International School, UI is “We have checked their website. The ISI was established in 1963 by the University of Ibadan. When has ISI become a Private school? Why is the DVC academic of UI the Chairman, Board of Directors? Is he a private person too? Who are the owners? Let them reveal the identity of the Proprietor. Even if the school is private as they claimed, constitution guarantees that you can manifest your religion both in public and in private.”
The Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) of University of Ibadan and Chairman Court of Governors of ISI, Professor Yinka Aderinto who was accosted by some angry parents at the ISI gate appealed for c noruntilcalm promising that normalcy will soon return.
Professor Aderinto said the action of the protesters was “unexpected” adding that there were series of meeting held even with the concerned parents.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) told the parents that “these students are our children and we cannot allow anything that will lead to bloodshed.”
Some parents of ISI students were seen in groups condemning both the actions of the protesters but expressed disappointment over the decision of the management to close the school.