Sunday, 10th September, 2023.
RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION, INFRINGEMENT OF MUSLIM RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF RELIGION: THE DISHEARTENING STATE OF A GOVERNMENT-OWNED INSTITUTION; FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURE ABEOKUTA (FUNAAB)
In recent years, the issue of victimization of Niqob adorning sisters by some staffers of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta has been recurring.
Niqob is the highest level of modesty for a female in Islam and is also the right of any Muslim lady that chooses to adorn it in this country. The users of Niqob, like every other person, can be identified when the need arises and the sisters using it on the FUNAAB campus have always availed themselves for identification.
It comes as a surprise that the Management, alongside some staffers, of the institution have shown stern hatred towards the users of the Niqob and went to the extent of tagging the dress and indecent dressing in a billboard. This move created a great uproar and backlash to the leadership of the institution, forcing them to bring down the disgraceful banner.
In the past, the management, in various encounters, has claimed that issue is the sisters need to be identified and the sisters as always availed themselves for identification when necessary. The school even made this claim on a matter at the Federal High Court and told the court the school has made provision for registration for students that wants to use the Niqob.
Upon request on the mode of identification by the MSSN, the university management, in a surprising turn of event, feigned ignorance and wrote us that they did not know where they made such submission. A matter that was clearly documented in the judgement of the Federal High Court (Maryam vs FUNAAB).
The victimization reached its height during the first semester examination when 2 sisters from NTD who were writing their examination having been checked in by the invigilators, had their answer sheets snatched and sent out of the hall. Also, another sister from the department of PRM was denied access write an examination despite availing herself for proper identification. The latter victim was further distressed when she was was petitioned to the DSS by the university management and some staffers of the university, subjecting her to undue physical and psychological duress to the extent she had to be admitted to the Federal Medical Centre’s psychiatric department on account of PTSD, spending 9days in the facility and was later discharged while still under medical care. To cap the unfortunate events of perpetual persecution, the three sisters’ were withheld and are rather charged to the Student Disciplinary Committee (SDC) when every other students results were released.
The CSO of the school, started towing the lane of pettiness when the MSSN was denied the approval for the requested hall for our formal opening event saying that they will only approve the hall only if the MSSN signs an undertaken that Niqob wearing sisters will not attend our events else the organizers of the event would be charged to SDC. A laughable proposal that was sternly rejected by the MSSN. Making them resort to use the masjid for the said event.
So, on the 9th of September, 2023, during the Formal Opening Event of Jihad Week, an incident occurred at the school gate of The Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. A Niqaab-wearing lady, accompanying her brother, a panelist at the event, was denied entry on the grounds of her attire, which adhered to Islamic standards of modesty. Her brother, in support of her right to enter the premises, insisted she undergo proper identification in line with global security standards.
In response to this situation, Muslim Students from MSSN FUNAAB united to ensure that no one, especially our fellow Muslim sister, is denied entry into the University due to their adherence to Islamic dress code. We stood by her peacefully, chanted our Adhkaar, and resolved the matter without resorting to violence. The Jihad Week was officially opened in a grand style, and any updates or changes to the program will be communicated through our MSSN FUNAAB broadcast channels.
We want to emphasize that any narrative differing from the above account should not be accepted unless proven otherwise. We remain committed to upholding our faith’s principles of decency, inclusivity, while maintaining a safe and secure community.
We hereby assure our members that we will continue to protect our members against any injustice and urge us to continue to stand together in unity and promote the values that define our religion in face of the ongoing intimidation.
• Fahdlulah Shittu
(Ameer, MSSN FUNAAB)
• Zaynul Abideen
(Naibul Ameer Administration, MSSN FUNAAB)
• Hammed Alabi Adeyemo
(PRO 1, MSSN FUNAAB)
MSSN…The Hope of the Ummah