The management of the University of Ibadan on Monday shut down the International School to prevent a possible violent clash between the protesting members of the Muslims Parents Forum and some students of the institution.
Members of the forum have in the past week been clamouring for the use of hijab by female Muslim pupils of the secondary school.
The Chairman, Board of Governors of the school, who doubles as the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics), UI, Prof. Adeyinka Aderinto, told our correspondent that the university management was jolted by the news that some placard-carrying youths, who were allegedly imported by the group, had laid siege to the gate of the ISI.
Aderinto said he also got a hint that some UI students were mobilising to attack the protesters for disturbing the peace of the institution.
He stated, “This hijab crisis started last week Monday and we had discussions throughout that week. But between last Friday and Sunday, we were aware that the Chief Imam of the UI Central Mosque intervened and held talks with the concerned members of the forum. At the end of the meetings, they (members of the forum) said there won’t be any problem and even agreed that all the concerned pupils should come to school without their hijab.
“I was shocked when I got information this morning (Monday) that some people had been imported to barricade the ISI gate. So, after consultations with some stakeholders, I directed that the school should be shut down until further notice.
“We closed it because we didn’t want anything untoward to happen; we don’t want to endanger our students’ lives. We will come up with a decision in due course; definitely, it won’t be too long before we reopen the school because WAEC (West African Examinations Council) and other examination bodies, which will involve our students in their examinations, will not wait for us.”
When our correspondent visited the school, a notice pasted on the gate by the management read, “The International School, University of Ibadan, has been closed down until further notice. Please take note.”
A man, who was later identified as the Chairman of the Borders’ Parents, Mr Lukman Ajibade, was seen pacifying other parents, who had stormed the school to evacuate their children.
Ajibade said the school would soon be reopened for academic work, because the management had shown enough commitment to calm frayed nerves and restore sanity to the institution.
Aderinto later sent a signed statement appealing to the parents to remain calm over the closure of the school.
However, the Muslim Community of Oyo State, on Monday, stated that the claim by the management of the ISI that the school was a private institution was baseless and diversionary.
The General-Secretary of the group, Sheik Ismail Busari, argued that the claim by the management of the school ran contrary to the country’s constitution that was used in establishing the institution in 1963.
Busari, while addressing journalists at the gate of the school after its indefinite closure, asked, “When has the ISI become a private establishment when the UI DVC Academics is the Chairman of the board?
“And Section 32 sub-section 2 of the 1999 Constitution as amended guarantees the right of Muslim ladies to wear hijab. We are operating a common law but as you can see, the common law is not common in Nigeria. Even in Europe, Muslims and Christians learn side by side. It (hijab) is allowed in Europe not only for students, but for military men and uniformed men. Hijab is decency; it is a form of protection; its appearance distracts nobody.”