The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has faulted the examination timetable recently released by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) for the conduct of the 2020 West African Secondary School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) scheduled to begin on Tuesday, 11th August 2020 for clashing with Jumu’ah prayers on Fridays.
The Islamic human rights advocacy group explained that its opposition against the new timetable which clashes with the period of Friday Jumu’ah prayers in which Muslim candidates were also expected to partake in the papers slated for the prayer hours.
MURIC’s Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, said that the subjects fixed for the period of the Muslim Friday Jumu‘ah prayer for the 2020 WASSCE examination which begins next week Tuesday has very serious implications for Muslim students
Akintola, through a statement released to newsmen on Monday, alleged that with the clashing timetable, the examination body was making it impossible for Muslim youth to worship despite efforts made by the body to ensure the current challenges did not surface.
“WAEC is deliberately creating a wedge between young Muslims and the mosque. WAEC is making it impossible for Muslim youth to worship. The examination body is encroaching upon Allah-given fundamental rights of Muslim candidates to access freedom of religion as guaranteed by Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. At best, the examination body is reducing the chances of good performance among Muslim candidates.
“A quick glance at the timetable recently released by WAEC shows that there are at least three clashes between examination periods and Muslim prayers on Fridays: Management-in-Living (2 pm, Friday 14th August 2020); Literature-in-English (2 pm, Friday 21st August); Health Science (1.30 pm, Friday, 4th September).
“This timetable is exclusive, sectional, parochial, insensitive, and provocative. It is an invitation to anarchy. It is designed to cause pain to Muslim candidates. It is, therefore, the handiwork of sadists and anarchists. It smirks of anti-Muslim machinery oiled by the passion for hate and injustice.
“We are perturbed by WAEC’s recalcitrance. The fact that the examination body ignored the above advice shows that it deliberately targets Muslims for persecution. It inflicts unbearable psychological trauma on young Muslim candidates. It is unacceptable. This has to stop.
“There is also enough evidence that this is not the first time WAEC will fix examinations during the Muslim prayer period on Friday. MURIC’s struggle with WAEC over the Friday question is of great antiquity. Unfortunately, WAEC does not appear ready to learn from history.
“It was due to this constant occurrence that we took a proactive step two months ago by cautioning WAEC not to allow its timetable to clash with the Jumu‘ah period this year but the leopard refused to change its skin,” the statement read.
Akintola, however, urged the Federal Government and the Ministry of Education to wade into the matter and ensure the examination body adjust its timetable to give room for Friday prayers.
“Muslim candidates should not be blamed if they refuse to write an examination under duress. Any examination that infringes upon freedom of religion is ultra vires, unlawful, illegal, illegitimate, and unconstitutional. Candidates for such examinations acting alone or in conjunction with their parents have every right to use every lawful means to stop the examination.
“WAEC is therefore invited to take notice of impending action by Muslim candidates unless it adjusts its timetable to accommodate Muslim Jumu‘ah service during the coming examinations. Muslim candidates must be given three hours every Friday. This is non-negotiable. Nigerian Muslims will liberate themselves from slavery, serfdom, and religious apartheid if government is lackadaisical. The only thing MURIC opposes is violence,” the statement added.