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Media festering of anarchy in Osun

By Mike Ogundele
20 June 2016   |   3:00 am
The Muslim community dragged the government to a High Court of Justice to demand the use of hijab by their female wards in public schools. The Christians joined in the suit as an interested party.
Osun State Muslims student

Osun State Muslims student

A Look at the newspapers on the newsstands on Wednesday June 15, 2016, reveals a depressing descent to sheer madness. There cannot be any other word to describe it. Virtually all the papers published in Lagos with the exception of The Guardian and The Nation used as front page with banner headlines the disgusting epigram of misguided five pupils of Baptist High School, Iwo, wearing strange religious robes to the school.

By the way, there are three schools in the premise of this school, each having about 1000 students. Where, therefore, is the spectacle (five errant students out of 3000) except in perverted imagination and mischief of the authors of the story? Let decent people weep for Nigerian journalism!

One wonders what was the logic behind this ridiculous action from these organisations that should be the barometer for measuring our morality. Was it to protest the judgement of a court of competent jurisdiction on a matter that took almost three years to conclude? Probably the media houses were undeclared stakeholders in the litigation. Could it be that bigotry and hypocrisy have taken over editorial rooms of the media houses? Or just simply to embarrass the government, particularly its judicial arm in Osun, regardless of the consequences to public morality, sanity and stability.

Let us examine the issues. Sometime in 2012, the government in Osun introduced common uniforms for pupils in public schools after the reclassification of schools and restructuring of basic education along the line recommended at a summit on education in February 2011. Soon after this development, a group of people then falsely claimed that the motive for all the actions of the administration was to impose a particular religion on the state.

This patently false and unfounded allegation was debunked and clearly rejected with vigour. It was this acrimony that attended the unnecessary campaign of hate that led the Muslim community to institute an action in court seeking judicial pronouncement on the right of their wards in public schools to wear the hijab that is obligatory for female in Islam.

The Muslim community dragged the government to a High Court of Justice to demand the use of hijab by their female wards in public schools. The Christians joined in the suit as an interested party. After about three years of the case, the court on Friday, June 3, 2016 ruled in favour of the Muslims on their prayer to enforce the fundamental human right of their female wards in public schools to wear hijab.

For the avoidance of doubts the High Court is the court of first instance. There are two other levels of appeal; the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. To be sure, in Lagos State, a similar case was decided a year ago against the Muslim Students Society without any drama. What the aggrieved party did was to advance its case and interest to the Court of Appeal, where the case is till now. None of these hyperactive newspapers showed any interest in that case!

One would have expected a similar action in the State of Osun, but the perversion of value by a section of the leadership of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the state would rather seek to subvert civil authority. It is this criminal subversion that majority of the news stables in Lagos carelessly supports for reasons that are known only to the leadership of the concerned newspapers.

Should we say these newspapers prefer anarchy to order, security and stability? How does the descent to chaos help society? What good comes from evil manipulation of innocent children for cheap sentimental objective? Who benefits from lawlessness? What is Civil Society? How do we qualify civilisation? Does this report uphold the rule of law or promote lawlessness? These are the questions that our media chiefs must ask themselves and answer if our nation is to truly survive as a democracy and a republic.

The affected public schools in Osun ceased to be privately owned since 1975. That was 41 years ago. Any claim of subsisting interest in these schools by anybody or group is false and illegal. Where is this sanctimonious belief of ownership? It is imaginary and totally unsubstantiated. What probably feeds this erroneous belief is the fact that these schools still bear their old names. In the Northern part of Nigeria where the take-over of schools by the government was accompanied with immediate change of names, anomies as we still have in the South was obviated. Probably this should be the course of action in our region to stave off needless crisis from perverts who want to stoke crisis where such action is alien culturally, customarily and traditionally.

In the interest of our people the media should desist from reckless partisanship and misguided promotion of hate, bigotry and division. What majority of the news stables from Lagos did on Wednesday was contemptuous of the judiciary, subversive of government and a gross abuse of their power to guide society in decency, decorum, civilisation and morality. It must be condemned by all decent people in the land. Let us invest in building a just, humane and civilised society.

• Ogundele writes from Osogbo.