24 January 2011

Nigeria: Group Alleges Disenfranchising of Muslim Women Over Hijab

Abeokuta — The Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN) Ogun State Chapter has accused some ad-hoc staff of INEC in the state of trying to disenfranchise Muslim women in hijab (veil).

The society a communiqué signed by the President Mallam Abdul Wasiu Bamgboye after their emergency meeting held in Abeokuta threatened to stage a 'peaceful protest' if the alleged act is not urgently addressed. The group decried the alleged order by INEC ad-hoc staff to the Muslim women to remove their hijabs before being allowed to register. "We view it as an effrontery on Islam and the Muslims who should be free to practice their religion as enshrined in section 38 of 1999 constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria". Commending the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Deacon Martins Okufolami for addressing the issue initially, the group expressed concern that the situation still persists, citing registration points at Ake, Ita-Agemo, Igbein, Abule Oloni, Lantoro, Amolasho, Bata Bus-Stop Itoku, AgoEgun Sodubi, Obantoko and Asero all in Abeokuta where the officials are still denying the Muslim women the right to register.

It said, "Failure to effect the required changes in this regards will not only undermine the process but also result to peaceful demonstration by members of our society. We demand that the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Ogun State call his officials to order, especially the Area Registration Officials (AROs) who despite the REC 's directive, chose to bring religious sentiment into the exercise by way of insisting on the removal of the hijab used by women as conditions before registration".

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