Mrs. Gladys Nchelem Ihunda is the Registrar of the West African Health Examination Board(WAHEB) which the regulatory body in charge of Schools of Health Technology and Hygiene in Nigeria. WAHEB organises qualifying exams for these schools.
Mrs. Ihunda has been denying Muslim candidates for this Examination their Constitutional right to attend Jumu’ah Prayer for 3 years now! She does so by single-handedly scheduling examinations between 12:30pm and 3:00pm on Fridays while Jumu’at service holds between 1:00 and 2:30.
This year, as usual, Mrs. Ihunda scheduled a paper between 12:30 and 3:00 on Friday, the 11th of November, 2017. This means every Muslim candidate for this Examination must choose between his religious rites and his career. This has been happening for 3 years now.
The tradition of the Board before Ihunda had been to either schedule only one paper on Fridays or schedule two papers from 9am – 11:30am and from 2:30pm to 5pm so as to allow Muslims to attend Friday prayer between 1:00pm and 2:30pm. This had been the practice of the immediate past Registrar, Mr. E. B. Asoto.
However, Mrs. Ihunda reversed this long standing tradition immediately she came on board 3 years ago. Several complaints had been lodged to her on this issue over the years and she severally promised to rectify the situation against subsequent examinations, but she ignored each of them without any explanation.
It is to be noted that Jumu’ah Prayer is obligatory on every adult male Muslim. It goes without saying that Mrs. Ihunda’s attitude and action as explained above is a violation of Muslim candidates’ right to worship. Nigeria can only flourish when we all respect another’s faith and tradition.
It is in view of the foregoing that we call on WAHEB to immediately review its 2017 timetable to allow Muslim students the opportunity to exercise their Constitutional right to worship in congregation on 3rr November, 2017 and all other Fridays in the future.
We also call on the Ministries of Health and Education and other concerned authorities to weigh into this matter and call Gladys Nchelem Ihunda and her co-travellers to order.
Further, we call on the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria, the Muslim Rights Concern and other concerned organisations to and their voice to this call.
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Audu Bulama Bukarti