5th March, 2013
The Lagos State House of Assembly on Monday evening began the probe of the alleged maltreatment of Aisha Alabi, a female student of Kadara Junior Grammar School in the Ebute Metta area of the state by the school head, Mrs. E.C. Ukpaka, for using hijab to school.
The House set up a four-man ad-hoc committee to investigate the allegation that Mrs. Ukpaka gave the student between 21 and 42 strokes of the cane as claimed by some members of the Muslim community in the state.
The members of the Muslim community had protested to the Government House in Alausa, Ikeja last week decrying the situation and asking the government to act on the issue.
The protest also resulted in the petition written by the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN) which claimed that the beating of the 14-year old student was enough to cause religious crisis.
While deliberating on the petition, some of the members urged that the matter should be handled with caution to prevent it from degenerating into a serious crisis.
Suuru Avoseh, a lawmaker representing Badagry Constituency 2 at the House, described the incident as unfortunate.
“We don’t expect such an act to happen here in Lagos where peace reigns. There is no law that prohibits a particular religious dressing in our schools in Lagos. We need to be careful in handling religious matters of this nature. I will suggest that the concerned school and the state Ministry of Education be invited to the House so that we can investigate this matter,” he argued.
In his reaction, the Chief Whip of the House, Razaq Balogun, on his part, warned that the House should not be quick in passing judgment over the issue.
He pointed out that the House has only heard a side of the matter and that it will be unfair to conclude and pass a judgment on the issue as a thorough investigation into the allegation had not been conducted.
Balogun said: “We have only heard a side of the story; I don’t want to believe the child was beaten for wearing hijab. I don’t see a school in Lagos banning the use of hijab. Religion in Lagos is 50-50. So, what we should do is investigate the matter before arriving at a conclusion.”
Speaker of the House, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, while summing up the arguments, warned that such actions would not be tolerated in the state.
“I don’t think such a thing can happen; no teacher can harass or beat a student for wearing hijab. We should not allow this to degenerate,” Ikuforji said before setting up an ad-hoc committee.
The members of the committee, which include Balogun as the Chairman, Wahab Alawiye-King; Muhibat Rufai Adeyemi and Bimpe Akinsola, were instructed to report back to the House next week.