Nigeria: Students' Fatwa On Lecturer
- Tension Grips ABU, Muslim Students Pronounce Fatwa On Lecturer
May 2, 2005
The stage appears set at the weekend for a fresh religious upheaval
at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria. A lecturer at the
Faculty of Law, Mr. Andrew Akume, was forced into hiding, following
a Fatwa (Islamic death sentence) which a section of Muslim students
at the school pronounced on him.
The development engendered palpable tension at the institution's two
campuses located at Samaru and Kongo.
Akume who is a member of the University Senate as well as Assistant
Dean of the Faculty of Law, allegedly walked out a female student
from the class having failed to remove a hijab she was wearing which
covered her entire face.
The Fatwa order and circular tagged "the resolutions" by concerned
Muslims Move-ment accused Akume of "assault on Muslim sisters and
blasphemy against Allah and Islam".
A second notice circulated by the same group further warned
that, "our earlier Fatwa holds and it is a time bomb which will
explode in a few days time; we are not a people who fight without
"Akume has spent nothing less than 10 years insulting our religion,
attacking our values, blaspheming our Prophet, victimizing our
brethren and making the Faculty of Law a hell for Muslims."
But in his petition to the ABU Vice Chancellor over the issue, Akume
denied the blashphemy allegation explaining that Law students were
expected to adhere to a dress code as prescribed by the Council of
Legal Education of the Nigerian Law School.
According to him, "I have also not and never assaulted nor asked any
Muslim girl not to wear the hijab. Infact, the Dean instructed that
we allow the wearing of hijab but that it should reveal the face and
"This is what we are enforcing and nothing more. I am being accused
of provoking Muslims because I am obeying the Dean's instruction to
advise that the hijab should reveal the face, which some Muslims
"The allegation of religious bias against Muslims or Islam is just a
smokescreen being used by some persons in the present administration
(of ABU) who want their pound of flesh for what they suffered in our
hands during the 2003/2004 ASUU-ABU management crisis."
The Benue State Govern-ment has already written the Kaduna State
Governor, Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi, demanding adequate protection for
Akume who is an indigene of Benue State.
According to the letter signed by Benue State Deputy Governor, Chief
Ogiri Ajene, "though the matter may sound more like a campus or an
academic affair, the fears are that if over-looked or not attended
to, the situation has the potential of degenerating into serious
crisis with the possibility of unnecessary loss of lives and
The ABU Vice Chancellor, Prof. Shehu U. Abdullahi, said the
authorities had taken appropriate action on the matter.
According to him, "a committee is investigating the matter and both
sides will be given ample opportunity to present their cases so that
justice will be done to all. The police are fully aware of the
situation and, as usual, we have confidence they have taken all
necessary measures to protect lives and property. The dress code
from the Council of Legal Education as it affects female students
prescribes "white blouse, dark jacket and black skirts covering the
knees (dark suit) or dark lady's dress and black shoes are to be
"Dresses should be clean and decently sewn. There should be no
embroidery and trimmings of any type and only moderate jewelry (ear-
rings and watches) are to be worn.
"During hot weather, students may be permitted to wear white shirts
with ties and dark trousers and black shoes, to class. Ladies can
wear simple dresses or skirts and native attire may be allowed only
to lectures and private social functions."
Death Threat: Group Appeals to Varsity Students
From Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
A group known as Foundation for Ethnic Harmony in Nigeria (FEHN),
has called on Muslim Students at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria,
under the aegis of Muslim Students Association, to drop the death
threat it allegedly places on a lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Mr
The group, in a statement signed by its National Publicity
Secretary, Joy Omateyi Imeli, said Nigeria has suffered so many
religious, ethnic and political violence, which had led to loss of
many lives and properties.
There were reports yesterday of growing tension at the University,
following a death threat put on Akume by the Muslim students, who
said he walked a fellow student out of class for putting on a hijab.
The death order, said to have been issued after a meeting by
concerned Muslim students, alleged the lecturer of "assault on
Muslim sisters and blasphemy against Allah and Islam.
FEHN said issuing a death threat is not the best solution to the
matter, adding that "Islam is a religion of peace and abhors
"The Muslim students should have a re-think on the Fatwa
pronouncement, because such statements and actions could lead to
reprisal attacks or actions, which are not healthy for the growth
and development of the nation in general and ABU in particular,
considering the numerous closures the school has experience as a
result of various crisis," it said.
The statement noted that the country would be a better place if
people adopts dialogue in sorting out their differences, rather than
recourse to violence.
Akume who is a member of the University Senate and Assistant Dean of
the Faculty of Law, is said to have gone into hiding. The matter has
attracted the attention of Benue State government, where the
lecturer hails from. Reports say Benue State Governor, George Akume,
had already written to his Kaduna State counterpart , Alhaji Ahmed
Makarfi, urging him to intervene in the case.
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