MSSN warns against child abuse as schools resume in Lagos
The Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, Lagos State Area Unit has warned against abuse of Muslim pupils, especially females, as schools resume in Lagos.
The Amir (President) of the MSSN in Lagos State, Dr Saheed Ashafa, in a press statement, appealed to principals and teachers to ensure a crisis-free session.
He reminded them that based on the Court of Appeal judgement on the use of hijab no student is expected to be punished, harassed or stopped from attending classes.
It will be recalled that a Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos had on July 21, 2016 unanimously set aside the judgement of a Lagos High Court, which banned students in public schools in the state from putting on the Hijab with their school uniforms.
The court presided over by Justice AB Gumel held that the appeal was meritorious and should be allowed.
Gumel held that the use of the Hijab was an Islamic injunction and also an act of worship, hence it would constitute a violation of the appellants’ rights to stop them from wearing it in public schools.
Dissatisfied with the decision of the appellate court, the Lagos State Government approached the Supreme Court, but no judgement has been delivered yet.
“It is a common principle in law that when there is a subsisting judgment by a court, in the absence of a contrary judgement the subsisting judgement remains valid,” Ashafa added.
According to him, child abuse has grown beyond just sexual harassment and excessive punishment to the victimisation of students for wearing hijab.
He further said that it would be irresponsible for any teacher or principal to punish female Muslim students for using the hijab, which is constitutional.
He said: “As a peace-loving organisation, we have continuously engaged erring teachers sometimes through dialogue and often times through legal means. It is disheartening that teachers and principals who are supposed to be role models for the students are the ones abusing them.
“We call on the Lagos State Government to caution its teachers and principals against the unconstitutional act of punishing our members for wearing the hijab in public schools. As a government, it is our expectation that it will be the guidance of law and order but the reverse seems to be the case on this hijab matter. We have seen cases where some teachers and principals are victimizing our members. This is worrisome and we ask the government to intervene urgently before the matter deteriorate.”
Ashafa, however, urged all members undergoing challenges in using the hijab not to take the law into their own hands but should report to appropriate quarters when harassed.
He also commended Muslim community leaders, imams, and parents, for maintaining and restoring peace in some schools, where students were troubled for using hijab.
Muslim Students' Society of Nigeria,
Lagos State Area Unit.