An unidentified female supervisor of WAEC assaulted a female Muslim candidate at Egan Grammar School, Igando, Lagos State while candidates were taking biology on Friday, 2nd September, 2016 between 9.30 am and 12 noon.
Although the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) reported the case at the human rights desk of the Igando Police Station and its press statement on the matter, dated 5th September, 2016, was given wide media publicity, the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) is yet to take palpable action on the issue.
While we are aware that the examination body visited the examination center and interviewed the victim, 16 years old Khadijat Eniola Anisere, nothing has been heard of the case six weeks after. Our demand for “a public statement from WAEC on the supervisor’s identity and the official reprimand failing which WAEC should blame itself for the reaction of Muslims” has been largely ignored.
The Federal Ministry of Education and the general public should note this insensitivity on the part of WAEC. It is those who provoke Muslims by their arbitrary and oppressive actions that cause religious crisis. Yet people turn round to blame the Muslims who are the real victims of first instance.
The Aristotelian cause-effect theory avers that every little action must have a reaction. Muslims are very sober and highly disciplined people but it is natural that they react when they are oppressed. Most incidents of religious violence in Nigeria can be traced to one act of provocation or the other. Religious riots are ordinary smoke and there can never be smoke without fire. The fire which often causes religious riot is either provocation, persecution or outright denial of Allah-given fundamental human rights.
The unprovoked and unwarranted assault on Khadijat falls under two of the above categories, namely: provocation and persecution. Instead of going to the streets in public demonstration, MURIC took civilized steps. We reported the matter to the police and issued a public statement to draw WAEC’s attention to the bizarre and barbaric action of its supervisor but WAEC is yet to do the needful.
It is noteworthy that the assault on Khadijat was not the first of its kind on Muslim children. In fact it is common in the South West but we are determined to make this a deterrent. The assault on Khadijat constitutes child abuse because she is just 16. She wept profusely after the hijab was violently yanked from her head. She also wept steadily throughout the interview conducted by WAEC officials who visited the center after the assault was published by the media.
It is a shame that this assault is being ignored by human rights groups and feminist associations at a time when the world is paying so much attention to the plight of the girl child. Are we to assume that these groups are not interested simply because the victim is a Muslim girl and the culprit a non-Muslim? Is it not high time we stopped paying selective and parochial attention?
In the interest of peace, justice and equity, therefore, MURIC is demanding the following reliefs from WAEC before the announcement of the results of the examination in question:
1. a public apology from WAEC for vicarious liability;
2. that WAEC identifies the culprit and bans her from participating in similar exercise in future;
3. that WAEC gives the candidate an opportunity to retake the paper in which the candidate was assaulted, disturbed and distracted now that the result has not been released and
4. that WAEC issues a warning to its permanent and ad hoc staff to desist from assaulting, intimidating or stigmatizing Muslim candidates in future.
MURIC does not issue threats. We dialogue instead of going violent. We also believe that legal action is civilized action in a democracy. It is an extension of dialogue where subtle persuasion fails. Therefore, WAEC may hear from our lawyers if it fails to comply with the reliefs being sought.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC),
E-mail: [email protected]
Yahoo Group: groups.yahoo.com/group/muslimrights