Freedom of expression, right to education, right to freedom of fair hearing, freedom of movement, right to freedom of religion, and right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association are some of the provisions of the Nigerian constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They are also the commonest human rights many Nigerians are aware of.
In most cases of human rights violations in Nigeria, these have been what human rights organizations and activists fight for mostly. Some rights, like the right to food and clothing which are provisions of Article 25 of the UDHR remain unknown to the majority of the populace.
One of the problems of Nigeria is that the majority of its citizens do not know their rights or the laws guiding the country therefore always get in trouble even for doing the right thing.
LONG HIJAB, A MUST WEAR FOR STUDENTS OF AL-HIKMAH UNIVERSITY
It was not surprising when Aisha’s sister said Aisha could change her school because her school, Al-Hikmah University, Nigeria, mandates the use of Khimar (covering for Muslim women that extends from head to toe) for female students which does not suit her dress code. Aisha is from Osun State, though she is a Muslim and she covers her head with scarves instead of Khimar but she has had to adapt to the use of Khimar.
Although, Al-Hikmah University is a private faith-based institution and we need to know if the school is registered under the National Universities Commission (NUC) as a Muslim University or an institution for students of all faiths. One could also say the University is being cautious and preventing sexual harassment but should it be at the cost of fundamental human right of student?
Under Section 25 of the UDHR, just like the right to freedom of clothing, the right to choice of food was also provided for. However, dress code right is not the only right that is being threatened on some Nigerian campuses. Right to food also comes under attack.
STRICT NON COOKING POLICY AT OSUN STATE UNIVERSITY AND AJAYI CROWTHER UNIVERSITY
Food is essential for a healthy living. Schools accommodate students from diverse backgrounds with different orientations and ways of life, each student personally has a dietary system and can be allergic to some foods.
Choice of foods should be personal. One would wonder if such students have been put into consideration before ‘NO COOKING POLICY’ was made at Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo State and Osun State University in Osun State.
This is an infringement on the rights of the students. UNIOSUN School policy was so strict that all medical students were suspended in 2021 even when only a few violated the policy.
Worse still, the cafeteria where these medical students were meant to purchase food in their hostel does not open on Sundays. Probably the management would want the student to starve on this day or expect them to source for food outside the school/hostel premises.
Recently, the school reversed the policy. That is so thoughtful of them but the reversal of the no cooking policy does not seem to be from a human angle.
The policy was enacted in 2021 and two years after the school thought it was a bad policy to make. It’s pertinent to note that what forms a school management is the collection of knowledgeable and experienced people and before a policy is made, these people would have considered many things.
Why is it coming to light on the 21st of November that the school comprises diverse students from different backgrounds with different dietary systems and the economic status of the country made the management reverse the policy. Will you then say the reversal from a human angle or maybe the cafeterias have been experiencing low sales?
Though Ajayi Crowther University screens its vendors and examines their health status, the school has trampled on the right of students to choose what they wish to eat. The school’s seminar to the vendors wouldn’t have talked about some allergies and or submitted a list of students with these allergies to the vendors.
Allergies do not come from seasoning alone. You can be allergic to egg and do not eat stew which has eggs in it.
One could say the school policy and sales of food ticket is a way of generating income for the school and the expense of the rights of students.
However, from the school angle, one could also tell that the management are being protective of their property from fire outbreak and mismanagement but it would not be a shock that fire can erupt from other things like electric spark.
Instead of schools mandating a non-cooking policy as a way to protect the school properties from gas explosion, it can rather ban the use of gas cookers.
Fire caused by gas is wild and spreads faster but other means of cooking can be employed in the school premises. Preventing fire in schools should not be at the expense of human rights. The property can even be insured.
Section 34, 35, 36 and 37 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) state that the fundamental rights a person is entitled to simply because they are human beings. This is regardless of a person’s age, tribe or religious affiliation. These rights are being protected by international and local laws and guarded against violations.
Anyone that violates any of the sections can be subjected to punishment if proper procedure is followed.