The Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, has commended the Inspector General of police, Usman Alkali-Baba, for approving the use of Hijab by Muslim policewomen across the country.
The commendation is contained in a statement signed on Friday by the Zamfara State Chairman of MURIC, Prof. Ahmad Galadima.
The group described the approval as a landmark development and the beginning of a new dawn.
The statement reads: “The High Command of the Nigeria Police Force has approved the use of hijab for policewomen who are willing to use the Muslim scarf. The single-paragraph statement reads:
‘The High Command of the Nigeria Police Force under the watch of the Inspector General of police, Usman Alkali Baba, has approved the use of hijab for the rank and file of its female workforce.
“The approval is one of the efforts of the leadership of the NPF, to encourage freedom of worship and promotion of religious tolerance within the police force and by extension, the general public. However, its use is optional and must conform to the approved style and design.
“This will be a welcome development to many Muslims, and accords respect to the Nigeria Police Force. In many, other countries of the world, especially in America, Canada, Britain, policewomen are allowed to wear Hijabs, as part of their uniforms’.
“MURIC hereby expresses deep appreciation to the Nigeria Police High Command, particularly the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba for listening to the pleas and advocacies of MURIC and other Muslim groups which have been demanding the use of hijab in the security and uniformed agencies for decades.
“This is a landmark development in the history of the struggle for Muslim civil rights. It is the greatest news of the century and the beginning of a new dawn. It is another bite from the dividends of democracy for Nigerian Muslims.
“With this approval, the Nigeria Police High Command has proved that it is keeping pace with global best practices in police formations around the world.
“It is an open secret that female Muslims in police formations (including their army) in Britain, the United States, Canada, etc use hijab with their uniforms. Nigerians who travel abroad cannot deny this. Therefore, what the Nigeria Police High Command has done is not new.
“We advise wailing wailers to accept the development as a natural evolution in civil rights struggle in the country. It will be petty, parochial and archaic to oppose the introduction of something that is already being practised in advanced countries.
“Only those who want to deprive Muslim women of the dividends of democracy and those whose agenda is to keep Muslims in perpetual bondage will cry foul over the approval of hijab for female police women.
“It is only in Nigeria that religious maradonisation has taken control of our thinking faculties and we have consequently excommunicated objectivity from our boarders. The hijab does not interfere with the professional efficiency of the person wearing it. A Muslim woman who wears hijab has only covered her head, not her brain! Hijab is a crown, not a crime.
“It is also important to note that the High Police Command statement was entitled ‘Newly Approved (Optional) Dress Code for Police Women’. It is therefore meant for female police women who wish to use it alone.
“Some female Muslim police women who do not wish to use it are free to continue dressing the old way. This means no police woman will be compelled to use hijab. We are deliberately laying emphasis on this to foreclose mischief and misinterpretation.
“MURIC appeals to other security agencies to approve hijab for their female Muslim staffers who wish to use it. This appeal goes to uniformed security agencies like the Nigerian Army, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Immigrations and Customs as well as para-military bodies and traffic formations like the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA).
“At this juncture, we are constrained to reveal that many female soldiers, police women, female traffic officers, female immigration staff, etc, who are Muslims, have complained to MURIC that they are yearning for use of hijab because they are not comfortable without it.
“We thank all those who have worked behind the scene in collaboration with MURIC, particularly the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and Senator Ibrahim Shekarau. Equally worthy of mention are various Islamic organisations in the country.
“We appeal to Nigerians to exercise patience and decorum in all their demands from the authorities. Violence is not the way to go. We will all get what we want at the end of the day if we can be patient.
“The keywords here are patience, advocacy, constant enlightenment, persuasion, dialogue and behind the scene consultations. Nigerian leaders are not blind. They will respond positively when convinced.”