The management of Covenant University, owned by Bishop David Oyedepo, founder of Living Faith Church Worldwide, have recently been involved in a controversy involving barring of Hijab-wearing candidates from sitting for the Mock JAMB examinations at its campus in Otta, Ogun State.
In a 1:14 minute video uploaded online, about four female candidates wearing Hijab were stopped from going into the university due to the hijabs they adorned.
A parent, Mr. Olayode Akeem, who accompanied his child to the centre, said the security men prevented Hijab wearing candidates from entering the premises of Canaan Land because they were acting on instruction from above.
Daily Trust reports that it took the intervention of JAMB before the candidates were allowed in after waiting outside for more than one hour.
Another source who resides at Ota said: “I was at Covenant University on Friday and I witnessed it. A lady was told she can’t go in to write her mock exam or else she put off her hijab or turn it into scalf. This is height of impunity. This is pathetic and should be addressed before the exam date.”
Several persons have taken to Twitter to condemn the action of the Canaan Land, asking the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) to address the issue before the main examination day.
“I call on Dr. Isaq OLOYEDE @JAMBHQ to look into this matter… The centre was given randomly why denying them of writing their exams…(sic) Christians do write JAMB in Alhikmah University Ilorin, Summit University in Offa and in Fountain University Oshogbo without any problem… It’s only Oyedepo that has problem…,” a Twitter user Taiye Hassan said.
But Ago Ugbaja, another Twitter user, haf a different perspective, saying: “It’s a private institution and that’s it!!! Go and sort it out with Oyedepo…. And JAMB.”
Meanwhile, Islamic organizations condemned the action of Canaan Land in separate statements made available to Daily Trust.
The Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative (HRAI) and the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), in separate statements, said some candidates had to remove their Hijab before they were let in.
The HRAI said it got a distress call on Thursday from the father of a candidate Mr. A. A. Olayode, that his daughter and several other candidates wearing Hijab were barred from entering the Covenant University CBT centre for the mock Jamb examinations.
Executive Director of the organization, Mutiat Orolu-Balogun, said the candidates were denied despite Mr. Olayode’s explanation to the security guards that as a national examination, candidates were posted there by the examination body and thus should be allowed to write their exams.
“The security guards insisted that the university being a Christian institution does not permit hijabs in their premises and as such the candidates could not enter. Some candidates removed their hijabs in order to gain entry, while Maryam the daughter of Mr. Olayode and two others who did not remove their hijabs were denied entry.
“The Centre coordinator at Covenant University CBT centre was contacted and he joined the denied candidates at the gate and promptly let them in,” Orolu-Balogun said.
Also, MURIC Executive Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, urged the JAMB to sanction both universities for disallowing hijab-clad girls from entering their premises for Thursday’s mock examination.
Akintola lamented that the Muslim girls were delayed for 48 minutes while the examination was going on.
“In the case of Canaanland, the students who begged for permission to enter were ignored until a parent sent Save Our Soul Message (SOS) to MURIC headquarters which sprang into action by contacting JAMB authorities as well as the Ogun State branch of MURIC.
“The SOS produced some result and the coordinator of the centre soon came with his car to ferry three hijab-clad girls into the exam hall.
“The number of Muslim girls who wore hijab was actually more than that but about five or six had surrendered by removing their hijab after begging for more than one hour. Those who removed their hijab were allowed to go inside.
“Those who cannot tolerate Muslim girls in hijab should not apply to host public examinations. Canaanland and Covenant have subjected Muslim girls to embarrassment, stigmatization and persecution,” Akintola said.
Oyedepo, who was born into an Islamic family, has been very critical of Islam.
Commenting on the crisis over Hijab in Kwara State two years ago, the Bishop said: “It is such a nasty development in Kwara state where Muslims are asking their students in our schools to wear Hijab, and the church said “no”, I have never seen a place in my life where a tenant will be decreeing for the landlord.”
JAMB is yet to comment publicly on the plight of female Islamic students at Covenant University.