There are strong indications that the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) organised by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) is gradually becoming hostile to female Muslim candidates wearing hijab, the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Lagos State Area Unit has alleged.
The group made the allegation following recent harassment and delay of Muslim candidates wearing Hijab before accessing some examination centres for the JAMB Computer Based Test (CBT) Examination in Lagos.
MSSN noted that it already visited two centres – Shoms International School and Daleware Institute of Technology in Lagos – due to the worrisome attitude of some JAMB officers, who expressed discriminatory act against female Muslim candidates on Hijab.
After visiting the centres, Amir (President) of MSSN Lagos, Mallam Saheed Ashafa, decried the harassments of the female Muslim students, wondering the reason behind the latest discrimination against hijabites.
Ashafa explained that JAMB breached the constitution of Nigeria, which guaranteed fundamental human right of religion by denying female Muslim candidates from taking the examination.
He said: “There is no gain saying that JAMB is still a neutral body. Recent actions embarked upon by some officers of the body strongly indicate that JAMB-UTME is denying Muslims of their fundamental human rights.
If not, why are JAMB officials refusing female Muslims from entering examination centres because they put on Hijab? The reports we got from several centres are worrisome, hence we decided to visit some of the centres and found out that they were true.”
The group also accused JAMB for fixing examination at a time ýwhen Muslims were supposed to be observing their Jumat service, adding: “Examination bodies should stop tampering on the rights of Muslim students.
While it is Muslims wish to participate in examinations, in the process we do not want our rights to freedom of religion to be trampled upon. JAMB cannot claim ignorance of the fact that Muslims observe their Jumat prayer between 1pm and 3pm on Fridays.
“JAMB should be reminded that the use of Hijab by the female Muslim students is a constitutional right which has been unequivocally affirmed and guaranteed by the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended and international instruments which Nigeria is a party to. We hope that this will stop without chaos.
“JAMB can only claim neutrality by stopping the refusal and delay of female Muslim candidates on Hijab from gaining entrance without stress like other students.
We are not asking the examination body to infringe on other peoples religious rights but the JAMB must know clearly that the same reason why it cannot fix examination on Sunday (24 hours) and allow people to expose their unclothedness makes it un-ideal for it to fix examination during Jumat time (two hours) and stop those coving their unclothedness with Hijab.
“As if that was not enough, JAMB also exposed candidates to danger in the name of writing examination by fixing examination for 6.30am, a time when Muslims will just be completing their morning Salat (prayer). We appeal to the JAMB authorities to put a stop to this before it degenerate into crisis.”