ISI HIJAB ISSUE: BEFORE WE ARE PUSHED TO THE WALL

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Earlier this week, my children (a girl and a boy) informed me of ISI principal’s decision to prevent students of the school from wearing any adornment on the school uniform inside and outside the school premises. I found the outside part absurd and downplayed the information.

On Wednesday, 3rd July 2019, I took my children to school and parked under the shade beside Idia Hall at about 8.00 am and noticed a small crowd of students gathered about 80 metres or thereabout away from the school gate. My children promptly informed me that the Accounts section was checking payment clearance before allowing them in.

I decided to wait a bit and to my surprise, after checking my daughter’s clearance, the security man and Mr. Odewale of the Accounts section were issuing some instructions, which my daughter was not happy with. I therefore moved closer and learnt that they wanted my daughter to remove her hijab before walking down towards the gate and she refused. I felt enraged as any reasonable man would when his daughter’s honour is violated. Moreover, that space belongs to University of Ibadan, a Federal institution. I gave the two aggressors a piece of my mind, especially as that was Mr. Odewale’s second time of harassing my daughter over the use of the hijab. I then marched my daughter towards the gate, while the aggressors instructed one Mrs. Gbadamosi, at the gate to lock my daughter out.

As usual, when my daughter got to the gate, she removed her hijab and after another round of exchange of wards, she was allowed in. I was infuriated and I could sense that my daughter felt humiliated and deprived of her right to dignity. I therefore made my stand known and left for my place of work. At around 10.00 am, I received a call from Mr. Akintunde, the Vice Principal and I promised to call him back after two hours, when I would have stepped out of my 10 O’clock class.

I later called him at about a few minutes to 12.00 pm and he requested for a meeting on Thursday, to which I obliged. I told my friends and elders and they all advised against self-help, which was my first and instinctive reaction. I therefore looked forward to meeting with the Vice Principal.

At the close of work on Wednesday, I picked my children from the school and was reliably informed that the Principal, Mrs. Olowe went to my daughter’s class to embarrass her during the second period. This annoyed me further as I felt she was psychologically terrorising my daughter, and therefore, informed my friends and elders again who still called for calm.
This morning, 4th July, I got to the gate and met hordes of UI security men and a couple of gun wielding policemen at the same place.

They had stopped my daughter from proceeding towards the gate. I enquired from the Unibadan Chief Security Officer, who led the team and he insisted that my daughter must remove her hijab, far from the gate and on UI soil, before she could proceed further. A good friend of mine, who had earlier in the day faced similar humiliation with his daughter pleaded with me to take things calmly and allow my daughter to submit to their oppression and remove the hijab. I therefore apologised to my daughter for failing in my duties to protect her honour as a father and asked her to remove the hijab and go for her classes.

In conclusion, I felt deprived of my rights to raise my daughter in line with my religious calling, especially within the premises of UI, where I put in my dues as an academic staff. I am however consoled by the fact that I am on the right path and justice will always prevail, no matter how long. Moreover, history is replete with information on the miserable end of all oppressors and their accomplices.

Idris Olabode Badiru

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