Dr. AbdulHakeem AbdulLateef, the former chairman of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), has called on the federal government to advise Prof. Olusola Babatunde, the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), and his team regarding the use of Niqab within the institution. AbdulLateef has urged the university management to refrain from mistreating Muslim students who choose to wear Niqab.
Pointing to a previous incident where a student was denied entry to the school for wearing Niqab, despite a Supreme Court ruling upholding religious freedom, he criticized what he perceived as the university’s lack of understanding and intolerance.
He stated: “We must ensure there’s peaceful coexistence and harmonious relationship among all Nigerians. More than anything, we should tolerate one another, there’s a need to urgently call to order the FUNAAB Vice Chancellor on the high level of intolerance on students who use Niqab in the school.”
“Considering the Supreme Court judgment of June 17, 2022, affirming the freedom of Muslim students to adhere to the tenets of their religion, Islam, in their mode of expression as prescribed by Allah, we do not expect an institution that is supposed to enlighten and educate the public to exhibit ignorance and intolerance towards Muslim students. Why deprive them? Section 38 of the constitution is very explicit about the freedom of all Nigerians to express themselves, including freedom of religion, thoughts, conscience, and the right to practice their religion individually or collectively.”
AbdulLateef, a former Lagos State Commissioner for Home Affairs, emphasized that Nigeria is a nation of diverse religions, and educational institutions at all levels should respect the various beliefs held by their students.
He urged the university to implement appropriate measures, such as deploying female security personnel, to ensure proper identification of individuals when necessary.
He called on anyone associated with FUNAAB to step in and ensure that the management refrains from victimizing students based on their religious practices.
Additionally, he expressed hopes for blessings, harmonious relationships, and peaceful coexistence in the country, while urging university authorities to allow Muslim students to freely practice their religion and safeguard their fundamental human rights.