Muslims in the country have alleged injustice while criticising the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) over its recently released timetable for 2018 May/June Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE).
According to the timetable, candidates will write Chemistry paper from 2pm to 5pm on Friday, April 20, even when clashing with the Friday Jummat prayer which holds between 1:30 pm and 3pm.
The council released the timetable a week ago to principals of various schools to make it available to the students. The entire examination will start on March 27 and end on May 15, 2018.
Speaking on the Chemistry exam, Ishaq Akintola,
According to the President of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Ishaq Akintola, the timetable was an “injustice” against Muslims, whom he claimed had become “endangered species”.
He said WAEC had fixed examinations during Jummat sessions for some years and Muslim leaders discussed with the council in 2016 and 2017.
“Until something starts happening, until the Muslims start disrupting WAEC examination, until Muslims start tearing WAEC examination materials, that is when government will start paying attention.
“WAEC is playing games and they want the Muslims to make noise every year, the council is deliberately provoking Muslims and it has continued to show itself as a consistent anti-Muslim institution,” he said.
“Section 38 subsection 1 and 2 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s constitution stipulates that there must be freedom of worship and WAEC fixing an examination for 2pm simply means that WAEC does not want Muslims to worship, therefore WAEC is an oppressor and we are ready for them,” he said.
“The Muslims in every vicinity of the exam can mobilise on the day of the examination and go to the schools which the exams will be written, we are sending this warning to WAEC not to dare it,” he said.
He said fixing a major subject at Jummat time is “illegal, unconstitutional and unlawful”.
Similarly, AbdulRazaq Kilani, who is the chief Imam of the University of Port Harcourt, said it had become a normal narrative in Nigeria that Muslims have to protest before simple rights can be given to them.
Premium Tmes quoted him as saying: “WAEC is an international organization, one would have expected that they take due diligence by identifying subjects that they could put on Friday which are not core subjects like carpentry, textiles among others that are not offered by large number of candidates. So putting Chemistry there is wrong.”
Mr. Kilani, a professor said Muslims may demand for work-free Friday if the “oppression” continues.
“If the seventh day Adventist have Saturday and the other Christians have Sunday and the two hours the Muslims are asking for on Friday is being taken away from them, then the Muslim can ask (for) work free Friday which will cause a constitutional problem for Nigeria, it is better to grant the Muslims their right to worship,” he said.
Mutiat Orolu-Balogun, a lawyer, said Nigeria is a multi -cultural religious society, in which everyone must have a sense belonging and justice.
“We are not all the same and trying to let the same thing apply to everybody will only result in chaos and unrest. We all know that Muslims from time memorial always go for their Jummat prayer on Friday; I don’t think it will be fair to fix an exam during the time,” she said.
She said the council should have made the period free noting that students may not make it in time to the examination hall and settle for the paper even if the prayer time is between 1pm and 2pm.
The director of public affairs WAEC Nigeria, Demianus Ojijeogu, however told Premium Times the council has devised a way in which the subject will not clash with the prayer time.
“The paper will be delayed till 2:30 p.m. or 3 p.m. till the Muslims are back (from) mosque,” he said.