MPAC Engage! : Hijab Right Campaign
The Executive Exercising Authority of Oppression:
A Report on the Continuous Harassment of Sisters in Hijab.
Wednesday, 20 February 2019.
On the 14th of February 2019, the Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative received a call for action regarding the victimisation of Muslim women during the ongoing Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information (IPPIS) data capture. Below is a copy of the call as received;
“Call for Action: Injustice to One Is Injustice to All
Salam Alaykum Warahmatullah. A Muslim female Pharmacist working at Bwari General Hospital has been denied part of her employment’s rights as she was excluded from the ongoing data capturing process because of her hijab. This followed similar incident at Asokoro General Hospital. She will therefore not be included in payroll because she refused to naked her hair as demanded by the officials of IPPIS. Meanwhile removal of hijab was not part of the official requirements for the process as pasted on IPPIS website.
We are mobilising support to expose these agents of evil and to insist that the affected sister and every other Muslim women be attended to without any discriminatory condition.
The capturing continues at Zuba General Hospital on Thursday and we need the kind presence of every available brothers and sisters for a peaceful engagement at the venue.
Venue: Zuba General Hospital
Date: Thurs 14/2/2019
Jazakallahu khayran & thank you for rising to the challenge.”
—End of Quote—
Immediately receiving the call, members of the Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative led by Barrister Rukayat Saadu Dindi sprang into action. The Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative team visited the Zuba General Hospital in Abuja to be part of a delegation of other concerned Muslims. Upon our investigation, it was confirmed that the incident had occurred the previous day and that IPPIS that is Accountant General office was the affected office which failed to capture the two sisters because they insisted on not pulling out their ears (not hair) during the capturing.
The delegation was unable to reach a resolution because the team responsible for this victimisation were not present when the delegation arrived. A source confirmed that the office had disbanded the team following the incident.
The delegation left the Zuba Hospital alongside the affected sisters to GWARINPA General Hospital with the hope that the sisters would be captured there. However, before leaving, the Muslims in Zuba General Hospital were sensitised after Zuhr prayer on the need to stand up for their right to adorn the hijab. They were made to understand that ”Pulling out the ears” is not mandatory for data capturing and revealing any part of the female body before the public and in the presence of males is unacceptable.
The delegation was also in talks with the Accountant General office. The aim was not only to get the affected sisters captured but also to sensitise the office on the need for religious tolerance, respect for each other’s religious sensitivities among others.
Finally, before Maghrib, the affected sisters were captured at Gwarinpa General Hospital.
On further inquiry, another sister also narrated her ordeal to the Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative regarding the issue of the IPPIS data capturing. She stated that she encountered a similar problem as well but the issue was resolved when she and her supportive boss insisted that no one else would be captured if she would not be captured adorned in the hijab.
Sequel to this incident, the Abuja Muslim Forum (AMF) also responded in writing on February 14 2019, to the Director of IPPIS and copied the Honourable Minister of Interior and the Accountant General of the Federation.
Also as at the time of compiling this report, we were briefed this afternoon February 20 2019, that following the letter dated 14th of February 2019, which was delivered yesterday February 19 2019, a lead member of the IPPIS team, Mr Bamidele was said to have complicated issues the more. He was alleged to have addressed the field workers this morning specifically targeting Muslim women that they should not capture any hijabite that refuse to compromise her hijab. We were equally informed that they were presently capturing Environmental Dept staff at the time of receiving this report.
Below in quotes is the letter as written by the AMF. Also attached to this report is a copy of the acknowledgement letter dated February 19, 2019.
“14th February 2019
Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation
Ladoke Akintola Boulevard
Garki 11, Abuja.
NEEDLESS INFRINGEMENT ON FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF MUSLIM LADIES DURING THE ON-GOING IPPIS DATA CAPTURE
We refer to the above subject matter.
You may wish to recall that your office is currently carrying out biometric data capture of staff of the Federal Capital Territory Health Secretariat, including the staff of Asokoro, Bwari and Zuba General Hospitals, among others.
We have it on good record that during the said exercise, some of your field workers came across a number of Muslim ladies, who your field workers requested that they compromise their hijabs if their biometric data must be captured. In specific mention, team leads of the Asokoro and Kubwa/Bwari General Hospital IPPIS Capturing. Upon the refusal of the affected ladies to compromise same, they were excluded from the exercise. These ladies were informed by your field officers that they were acting under the instructions of some zealot ‘superior officers’ in your organization. In a gross misrepresentation of the ideal and letters of your organization’s guidelines and a demonstration of religious intolerance and bigotry against the peace-loving members of the Abuja Muslim Community under the service of the FCTA. We shall be available to substantiate this assertion if required.
It is instructive to state that the representation and action of your officials are not only in clear violation of the spirit and letters of Section 38 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but also contrary to the enrolment requirements made available to the public. For ease of reference, the requirements states in part:
…b) The officer must present himself physically for biometric data capturing where the facial picture would be taken (religious inclination of female staff is recognized where only the face is taken without requesting for the ears women in puddah (nikaf) would be required to be taken in private by a female official of the project consultants/federal documents civil service commission)
https://www.ippis.gov.ng/help-support-2/ accessed 14 February, 2019.
It is in view of the above, that the Abuja Muslim Forum (AMF) requests that the instrumentality of your good office be employed to bring to book such zealots who are bent on fostering disaffection, intolerance, social chaos and disharmony at a period in time when peaceful coexistence, respect for our societal differences and the rule of law are needed most. While we demand that a further reoccurrence of such religious intolerance, discrimination and humiliating treatment be forestalled by all practical means.
While we await your prompt reaction and feedback on the above, please be assured of our esteem regards.
For Abuja Muslim Forum (AMF)
Akosile Tesleem O. I. Esq
Ustaz Luqman Jamiu Ahmad
1. The Honourable Minister
Ministry of Interior
2. Accountant General of the Federation “
—End of Quote—
The following message was also circulated through the Abuja Muslim Forum platforms:
“As Salam Alaykum brothers and sisters.
It came to AMF’s notice at for the beginning of this week that IPPIS was carrying on data capture for staff of the FCT, precisely the Health Secretariat. That during the said exercise our hijab sisters were requested to compromise their hijab by exposing their hears. Some of the sisters fell for their antics while some remained resolute.
Alhamdulilah, the data for those sisters that remained steadfast were eventually captured without compromising their hijab.
Following the event AMF had petitioned the Director IPPIS, the Accountant General and the Minister for Interior.
However this morning we got to know despite AMF’s letter on the needless infringement on the fundamental rights of our sisters, daughters and mothers, some zealots at the IPPIS are still bent on this intolerant act. That one of the team leads addressed the field workers this morning specifically that they should not capture any hijabite that refuse to compromise their hijab.
We are equally informed that they are presently capturing Environmental Dept staff.
AMF hereby solicit our cooperation to avail us of any information on any subsequent case of failure of the IPPIS staff to capture any Muslim lady on account of her hijab.”
—End of Quote—
Hence, we implore our sisters to be bold enough to stand up for themselves and immediately report any case of victimisation as the right to use the hijab is a religious and constitutional right that should never be compromised.
In sha Allah, we will also investigate and take action on the discriminative remarks by Mr Bamidele and keep the public updated on this issue.
We also thank all those who stood up to defend the religious and fundamental rights of these women.
May Allah grant us victory against the oppressors. Amin.
MPAC, Nigeria is collaborating with Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative (Muslim women based NGO that caters for the rights of Muslim Women who choose to wear the Hijab in Nigeria) on this and other areas to secure the rights of Muslim women to use the Hijab.