As reported earlier, the Federal University Of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) banned the niqab, which is an Islamic dress that covers the entire body of a woman except her eyes. The reason for this was obviously to ensure that people on campus could be identified. They didn’t ban the hijab, which covers a woman’s face and neck, or the chador, which covers a woman’s entire body except her face.
Recently, a former student of FUNAAB came to the university dressed in a the niqab. The security men insisted that she must remove her face-covering veil before she could enter university. Subsequently, the university confirmed that the niqab is banned at FUNAAB.
Now the Muslim Rights Concern, a very important muslim rights organization headed by Professor Ishaq Akintola, is challenging the niqab ban at FUNAAB. According to him, the niqab ban violates the freedom of religion guaranteed by the constitution, which says “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of … religion … to manifest and propagate his religion or belief”, so it’s illegal.
He said, “No institution of learning, from primary to tertiary, whether federal, state, or even private, has the right to prohibit the use of hijab or niqab. It is a contravention of the provisions of Section 38(i) & (ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. To that extent, therefore, all anti-niqab pronouncements, memos, circulars, posters, etc issued by FUNAAB are null, void and of no legal effect whatsoever. Same goes for all such declarations and actions in other academic institutions throughout Yorubaland.”
He provided a possible compromise to address the security concerns: “if the authorities are not just keen on profiling Muslims, all they need to do is to ensure that Muslim women wearing niqab or hijab are checked by female security personnel. Their identities can also be verified by female officials who will take them to one side and take a look at their faces and cross-check on their identity cards.”
He called for muslim students to take action against the niqab ban, saying, “FUNAAB has crossed the red line. This oppression must stop and Muslim students have to take their destiny in their hands or the humiliation will continue ad infinitum. From now on, any institution in the South West that messes up with Allah-given fundamental human rights of Muslim students will face the wrath of the students.” (peacefully)