But the Director-General of the NYSC, Brigadier-General, Johnson Olawumi, insisted on the ban, saying it was “for security reasons.”
The national coordinator of LMYiD, Luqman Hassan; and the Deputy Coordinator, Kamarudeen Adefila, had told the NYSC DG that a major protest by Muslims was averted because of the ban on hijab in most orientation camps.
Hassan told the DG, “We are here to discuss with you about the incident that happened recently in various camps across the country. We have a guiding principle which is based on the Holy Q’uran. We are all Nigerians and the principle which guides us is the constitution and the African Charter on Human rights.
“Members of the NYSC are Nigerians who have contributed to the development of this country; female corps members deserve protection by the NYSC. We don’t believe that a female corps member putting on hijab has done any wrong against the Act establishing the NYSC. So they deserve the respect of the NYSC. We have travelled far and wide and visited different camps. Why are the rights of female corps members being infringed upon. We are here to register our displeasure.”
“Many Muslim organisations wanted to protest, but we said wait a while. In fact, we have to intervene to avoid the situation and if Muslims march on the streets, it will attract a lot of negative comments, but people won’t know why we are protesting,” Adefila had added.
In his response, Olawumi said, “Under my leadership, the NYSC will accord respect to every corps member, irrespective of tribe and religion. The incident in Benue State was caused by the use of long hijab. The security situation in the country is tough. There is the danger of somebody using hijab for other reasons.
“There have been cases where young girls put on hijab and eventually turn to suicide bombers. Boko Haram members know how to get at whoever they want as target. That is why we frown at the wearing of long hijab. Please call on all your Muslim youths to be patient and adhere to it, just for a short period during the camp. We frown at long hijab because of the security implication.”
The NYSC DG expressed disappointment in the allegation by the visiting youths.
“Why are you so particular on your alleged infraction on the rights of youths without mentioning any one of such on Christian youths? Produce your evidence, write to us and I can assure you that we will act fast. When the incident in Benue State was reported to us, I swung into action and ensured that the camp commandant was decamped immediately. We are not magicians; if you have any evidence, write to us and we will not hesitate to act.”
The NYSC Legal Adviser, Ahmed Tijani Ibrahim, said the incident in Benue State was under investigation.
He said, “I’m a Muslim and in our camps, I know that we have treated everybody equally. You mentioned the fact that you would have proceeded to protest. Very minor issues could trigger off mass protest.
“We will see the way forward to this complaint. I can assure you that the issue will not be swept under the carpet. The NYSC is very sensitive to the issue of religion and immediately we heard of it, we swung into action and we are on it because issues of religion are very sensitive.”