The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), the umbrella body of Muslims across the country, has accused the management of the University of Ibadan of stifling the voices of Muslims on the campus and ostracising them during key decision-making processes on the campus.
This was as the Islamic organisation condemned the state of insecurity across the country, and called on security operatives and leadership across all government levels to stem the tide and restore peace and tranquillity to every part of the country.
The Council also reacted to the evil fake news portends and advised Muslims to stay calm on the issue of mosque demolition in Rivers State pending the report of the fact-finding committee set up on the issue. It also urged the state government to abide by the court rulings on the matter of religious discrimination taken to court by the Muslim students of the Rivers State University.
These positions were contained in a communique issued after the group’s expanded general-purpose committee meeting in Abuja, the federal capital territory.
The meeting was chaired by the group’s president-general and Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar.
According to the communique issued at the end of the meeting, the Council condemned what it described as the nonchalant attitude of concerned authorities in Bauchi State over the alleged displacement of the Tafawa Balewa Muslim community from their ancestral land.
Meanwhile, the NSCIA’s position on the University of Ibadan was against the backdrop of the controversy over the use of hijab by Muslim pupils of the university’s International School, fixing of statutory academic and management meetings of the university for periods dedicated to Muslims’ Friday prayer, among other issues.
According to the communique, the Council alleged that the university under the current administration has made it a habit to discriminate against Muslim students in classrooms, and deny Muslim academic and non-academic staff from participating in key decision-making processes on the campus.
“It is rather unfortunate that the University of Ibadan whose founding fathers championed the cause of scholarship by establishing the Centre for Arabic Documentation, introduced Certificate and Diploma programmes in Islamic Studies and Arabic, created Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies and tapped the resources of Arabic to create and enrich Ibadan School of History, is the same university being used by a bigot to eliminate the programmes, discourage Muslim girls from International School, Ibadan, segregate Muslims from Christians in the classrooms so that the latter can be given more attention, fix official meetings for the period of Friday worship and insisted Muslims must be de-Islamised before benefitting from a school established by the university,” the communique read in part.
“We insist Boko (western education) is halal (lawful) while the University of Ibadan is insisting on declaring Boko as haram. Lawmakers should initiate bills that would streamline and unambiguously legitimise the use of hijab in public institutions in the country.”
Background to the issue
The University of Ibadan has in recent time been enmeshed in crises over religious issues especially following the opposition of the management of the institution’s staff school to the use of hijab by its Muslim pupils.
Some Muslim parents have accused the management of denying the pupils what they called their inalienable right to religion and staged a series of protests to drive home their point.
Under the umbrella of parents of Muslim students of University of Ibadan International School, a case has been filed against the school. But while awaiting judgement, the school suspended a female student for two weeks for allegedly wearing hijab after school hours.
In a similar development, about 38 Muslim professors from the university also recently petitioned the Idowu Olayinka-led administration of the university over what they described as a deliberate action of denying Muslims participation in various important statutory meetings.
The professors said the university fixed its Senate meeting for Friday and that the meeting extended beyond the time meant for Muslim Friday prayer.
They said the tradition since the tenure of a former vice-chancellor, A.B Odediran, was that the hours of noon to 3 p.m should be free of any statutory academic and administrative activities on the campus, adding that the position was backed by a university special release of August 23, 2010, which they claimed banned lectures, meetings, and other statutory engagements on the campus during those hours.
The university, however, denied the allegation, saying the meeting was not fixed for the time designated for Friday prayer.
Speaking via telephone with PREMIUM TIMES, the university’s vice-chancellor, Idowu Olayinka, denied the allegations by the NSCIA. He, however, said based on the many allegations levelled against the university, he would require an official letter for proper response.
“Thank you for reaching out to us. But I think these issues are many and would require that you write us formally in order for us to get the details and react appropriately. You can go ahead with your publication while we await the official communication for reaction,” Mr Olayinka said.