The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied claims by the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) that some Muslim women are being denied registration in the ongoing voters’ registration exercise in Lagos State, over their refusal to remove their hijab before capturing in parts of the state.
In a statement by the electoral umpire signed by its PRO in Lagos State, Mr. Femi Akinbiyi, the Commission said the claim is total falsehood as nothing like that was happening anywhere in Lagos State.
The statement which reads in parts said, “The attention of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Lagos state has been drawn to a press statement issued by the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) where it was alleged that: “Thousand of Muslim women from South West may not be able to vote in the 2019…”
“The leader of the organisation, Ishaq Akinola went on further to say that ‘Muslim Women are being asked to remove their hijab before capturing can take place.’ He however made a particular reference to a registration centre in Agege Local Government of Lagos State.”
The statement however added that, “It should be stated here that the statement is not true. A lot of Muslim women in hijab across the twenty local government areas of Lagos State have been captured, and are still capturing since the commencement of the exercise. The records are there to support our claims.
“The standard practice we adopted in all our Registration Centres is for INEC women officials to capture all Women in hijab’s biometrics in the open, while their faces alone were captured inside a confinement set aside for the purpose without necessarily exposing their ears or part of their hairs.
“Where we are operating under the canopy women rappers are being used to screen off the Muslim women from the public view. This approach is known and approved by some of the Muslim coordinators who have been interfacing with some of our Electoral Officers since the commencement of the Continuous Voter Registration exercise.
“The same approach is being adopted in Agege Local Government Area where the Electoral Officer confirmed that registration of Muslim women in hijab is going on smoothly, and that she received no complaints of any issue with women in hijab from any quarter.
“We want to also place it on record that religious fanatism has no place in the Lagos office of the commission. Muslim brothers and sisters in the office are operating as one family and are also part of registration officers found in all the INEC local government offices in the state, and even celebrated the last Ileya festival harmoniously with people of other faith in the office.
“We therefore enjoined the good people of Lagos State to disregard the said statement, if care is not taken can cause religious unrest in the state which nobody is ready for.
The best approach in our thinking to sensitive issue like this is dialogue. The Commission’s doors are open for dialogue on this and any other activities of the commission that need further clarification,” it said.