Outrage has continued to trail the alleged flogging of a 16-year-old pupil of Kadara Junior Grammar School, Ebute Meta, Lagos, by the Principal of the school, Mrs. E.C Ukpaka, because she wore hijab, a head scarf worn by female muslims, on the school premises.
It was alleged that Ukpaka gave Aisha Alabi, a Junior Secondary School 1 pupil, many strokes of the cane for wearing the scarf.
It was learnt that Aisha wore the scarf outside the class in the school premises on February, 5, but she was apprehended by Ukpaka, who had warned against such practice.
It was said the principal immediately called an emergency assembly after apprehending the teenager to address the issue.
A pupil on the assembly, who pleaded anonymity for the fear of reprisal, said Aishat was given no fewer than 43 strokes of the cane.
She said, “At about 4pm on that day; we had closed before we heard that there was an emergency assembly.
“The principal addressed us and warned that if we didn’t stop putting on religious outfit during the school hours, we were going to get into trouble. She subsequently called on Aisha and gave her about 43 lashes.
“Some of us started crying on the assembly. Her body was covered with marks of the cane. The principal had warned us before, but that day was more serious.”
Aisha told our correspondent that since the school had closed, she thought that the principal’s warning would no more apply. She was however, prevented from talking further by her father, Rasak Alabi.
When contacted, the principal declined comment, saying as a civil servant, she was not allowed to talk to the press.
The Vice principal of the school, Mr. S. Ajide, however, said the school had appealed to the parent of the pupil.
He said, “The principal is not a harsh person. The beating just came like that. We have pleaded with the father of the girl and he has accepted.”
Rasak, who had earlier said he wanted his daughter to forget the “sad experience”, however, insisted that there was no basis for the beating because his daughter did not flout any law.
He said, “When I heard that my daughter was flogged because of hijab, I never believed it until I got to the school. I was amazed that my daughter was abused to that extent. On the Assembly for that matter, that is totally wrong.
“To me, the principal has gone too far. There is freedom of religion anywhere in the world. I see no reason why my daughter should be denied her right to practising her religion. I urge the Lagos State Government to please intervene in this. It should not continue.
The Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, Lagos State Area Unit, also described the act as “unprofessional and disgrace”.
The Public Relations Officer of the group, Mr. Sulaimon Alamutu, said the principal violated the constitution of the country which guarantees the right to religion.
He said, “The use of hijab by Muslims anywhere in the country, especially in public institutions, is a fundamental right issue. And fundamental human rights are rights which when denied man become automatic diminution of his humanity.”
It was learnt that the principal, the Islamic Religious Studies teacher, Rasak and other people concerned had been summoned by the Lagos State Educational District IV, under whose jurisdiction the school belonged.
The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba said the MSS had sent a petition to the government, who in turn set up a probe panel to look into the incident.
He said, “The recommendation of the panel will play a major role in government’s eventual decision on the matter. For now, the matter is being investigated.”