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No hijab in Lagos schools, no votes in 2019, Muslim students group tells candidates

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The Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Lagos State Area Unit has said that unconditional approval for female students to wear hijab in schools will be one of the criteria its members will use for voting gubernatorial candidates in Lagos state in 2019.

In a statement on Thursday, the group said the head of the MSSN in Lagos State, Saheed Ashafa, made this known at the organisation’s ongoing 106th Islamic Vacation Course holding at the Human Capital Development Center, Noforija, Epe.

Noting that assault on school children over the use of hijab is a violation of their fundamental rights and freedom, he said that the government and school authorities should embrace the use of hijab in schools.

Mr Ashafa explained that when the rights of Muslims are trampled upon, the organisation will address the issues without resorting to violence.

He emphasised, however, that educational development and willingness to allow the use of hijab by female students in schools would form a major basis for supporting any candidate in the forthcoming election in the state.

“Let me get something clear,” he said, “MSSN Lagos is not a political organisation but millions of our members are qualified voters. We have sensitised them enough to get their permanent Voters Cards and the need to be peaceful during the election.

“We have been very careful in taking a position on the governorship election in Lagos State, but something is clear: we will not support any candidate that will pose a challenge to the use of hijab by our members in schools or deny any of our rights..

“We urge the candidates to engage in issue-based campaign and avoid maligning others. We are interested in the ideas that these candidates have to solve the country’s challenges and defamation of character.”

Mr Ashafa also warned principals who still punish female students for using hijab despite the circular from government to desist from doing that.

He said that their action was capable of maligning the peaceful coexistence of people of different faiths in Lagos State, adding that MSSN has made tremendous progress on the matter so far and would not relent.

He said: “First, we are in court. We are a group of people who are civilised. We know the implication when a matter is still in court and the implication of working contrary to that. However, every assault that happens in Lagos is taken up by the society. Probably people think we will take to the street and create chaos in the society. We are not going to go that way. We will follow the constitutional procedures to make our case.

“Recently, a Vice Principal has been removed from office due to assault on hijab. When the issue of Army Cantonment Girls in Ojo happened, we were there, engaged the TGPS of that district and the VP was dismissed immediately alongside some teachers.

“We believe that this is a step in the right direction, even though we are not after anybody being removed from office, but what we are saying is that it is our right, and school children should be able to enjoy the use of use hijab.”

On the ongoing strike embarked upon by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Mr Ashafa asked the government to increase its funding of the education sector.

He faulted the government for the incessant strike embarked upon by the union, saying that it would be wrong to read political meaning into the strike action.

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