A call has gone to the authorities of the Joint Admissions Matriculations Board to sanction Canaanland and Covenant University, both in Otta, Ogun State, for disallowing hijab-clad girls from entering their premises for the Universal Matriculation Mock Examination.
According to the Muslim Rights Concern, the girls were delayed for 48 minutes while the examination was going on.
Muslim Rights Concern, whose arrowhead, Professor Ishaq Akintola, sent a Save Our Soul Message to the JAMB headquarters before the Ogun State Chapter of MURIC circulated a press statement, made the call on Thursday.
The statement was signed by the Ogun State Chairman, Alhaji Tajudeen Jimoh, and Secretary, Abdul Rasheed Olaleye.
The statement reads: “Muslim girls who wore the hijab were today Thursday, 30th March, 2023 disallowed from entering Canaanland Evangelical Megachurch, and Covenant University, both in Otta, Ogun State, venues of JAMB’s mock examination. We are in possession of the video clips which have gone viral. The hijab-clad girls were delayed at the gate while the examination continued inside. The delay lasted between 40 and 48 minutes.
“In the case of Canaanland, the students who begged for permission to enter were ignored until a parent sent Save Our Soul Message (SOS) to MURIC headquarters which sprang into action by contacting JAMB authorities as well as the Ogun State branch of MURIC. The SOS produced some result and the coordinator of the centre soon came with his car to ferry three hijab-clad girls into the exam hall.
“The number of Muslim girls who wore hijab was actually more than that but about five or six had surrendered by removing their hijab after begging for more than one hour. Those who removed their hijab were allowed to go inside.
“Ogun State chapter of MURIC condemns this coercion, harassment and religious apartheid. We demand action from the JAMB authorities against the host communities, Canaanland and Covenant University. Those who cannot tolerate Muslim girls in hijab should not apply to host public examinations. Canaanland and Covenant have subjected Muslim girls to embarrassment, stigmatization and persecution.
“Both have lost the moral right to host programmes attended by the general public. Canaanland authorities should have given necessary instructions to permit all candidates regardless of their religion. We can only attribute its failure to do so to negligence or deliberate and anti-Muslim action.
“This is gross injustice. Those girls would have missed the entire examination if JAMB had not intervened. We commend the JAMB authorities for moving quickly to resolve the problem in both centres but JAMB must clear its name by sanctioning them. Only thus can we be assured that JAMB is doing its work.
“This hijab discrimination at JAMB examination centres has become a recurring decimal. We recall that it happened at Redeemed Camp and we reported to JAMB in October 2022. JAMB needs to inform the general public about steps taken to either warn or sanction defaulters and violators of its rules.
“We therefore demand transparency from JAMB on steps taken on such matters. For instance, the letter, if any, written to Redeemed Camp to interrogate the 2022 incident should be displayed. Ditto for today’s unnecessary, deliberate and unjust delay of hijab-clad candidates at Cannanland and Covenant gates. JAMB must tell Nigerians what action it plans to take against both defaulters.
“We cannot just overlook what has happened. The victimization of Muslims in the South West will continue until somebody is held accountable, no matter how highly placed. JAMB should address issues like time lost while the Muslim girls stood at the gate.
“Unless the girls are miracle workers they cannot measure up to their normal standards in an examination where they were subjected to emotional trauma for almost one hour before being allowed to enter. What happens if any of the affected Muslim girls should fail?
“A developing story just reaching us as we prepare this press release is another story of repression going on this morning at Covenant University CBT Centre, Otta, Ogun State, where several candidates who wore hijab were disallowed from entering the campus for the purpose of writing the same JAMB mock examination.
“JAMB authorities were also contacted in the Covenant University case before the hijab-clad candidates were allowed to enter after losing 48 minutes. The examination started at 7 am and they were permitted to enter at 7.48am. Meanwhile all Christian candidates started at 7 am while the Muslims were delayed at the gate. Is this fair? Of course we made sure that our press release was ready by 11am this morning because it is becoming too much for us to bear.
“This development will compel MURIC to seek legal redress in future against examination centres and the examination body itself. Any examination body that allows Muslim candidates to be subjected to undue hardship, embarrassment or stigmatization must be ready to explain itself in court, particularly if it is due to negligence.
“It is clear from today’s incident and similar ones in the past that Christian institutions in Nigeria, particularly in the South West have been actively pursuing a policy of stunted educational growth of Muslim children. Their goal is to ensure that fewer Muslims gain admission to tertiary institutions for obvious reasons. We urge owners of examination centres to realise that the world has moved on. It is now a global village. Nothing is hidden from the general public. The video clips of their shameful and horrendous behaviour is all over the place.
“Finally, we remind JAMB of the need to critique today’s ugly and unfortunate incidents at Canaanland and Covenant University. The code of conduct in centres should be made public while erring centres should be sanctioned. This is necessary to avoid a breakdown of law and order in future. While we appeal to Muslims nationwide to remain calm and law abiding, we assert that Muslims will not remain silent and inactive.