*It’s discriminatory, rights bodies say
*You can’t deface our dress code, NYSC counters
By Williams Orji, Ezeocha Nzeh and Daniel Tyokua
Amidst the controversy raised by the de-kitting of two female corps members in Ebonyi State, civil rights advocacy group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), Arise For Women and other rights bodies rose against the action, insisting that they should be immediately recalled.
While HURIWA insists that dismissing them would stir unnecessary religious controversy, one of the other agitators insists that the de-kitted corps members were even protecting unnecessary exposure of womanhood to violence, while the other claimed the two women violated no known law in the country.
The affected corps members, Okafor Love Obianuju, with call-up number EB/19C/0523 and Odji Oritsetsolaye, with call-up number EB/19C/0530, who are both members of the 2019 Batch C Stream 1 posted to the Ebonyi State for NYSC, were de-kitted for reportedly refusing to wear the NYSC shorts and trousers.
The NYSC spokesperson in Ebonyi State, Ngozi Ukwuoma, alleged that the two corps members were spotted by the Camp Director, Mrs. Isu Josephine, and her team, during a routine morning inspection wearing their official white T-shirt upon white skirt but not wearing the prescribed shorts, handed over to corps members for their early morning physical training exercise.
But HURIWA National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko said flushing out the two Corps members from the camp is discriminatory, especially as the Muslim ladies, who complained against their dress code were permitted to wear white hijab in addition to the official kits handed over to them.
The rights body insisted that de-camping the two ladies on issues that bother on improper dressing and one in which people of the Islamic faith had been excused, and their feeling accommodated, is unfair and needs to be revisited immediately.
HURIWA in a statement maintained that “it is imperative that a universal standard of regulations are observed in a national integration scheme for the youthful Nigerians like the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC)
“It would be unfair and unjust to allow Moslem corpses who want to wear hijab to do so, but at the same time to deny other faithful religionists different from the Islamic faith group the same privileges accorded the Moslems since this would amount to a violation of section 42 of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 as amended”.
Also, rights body, Arise for Women and Mrs. Johephat Aminu, said rather than force the women out of the NYSC Camp, they should be commended for insisting on decent dressing, as wearing shorts exposes their bodies and puts them in danger of being hurt by the opposite sex.
According to Mrs. Obiajulu Maduakonam, National President of Arise for Women, “it is preposterous that an agency of government like the NYSC, which should be preaching sound morality, is encouraging women to go about half-naked and took such unexpected negative action against people who are protecting womanhood.
“What is more, the action of the NYSC exposes the hypocrisy in them. Otherwise, how can the NYSC allow women to expose their bodies to ‘wolves and vampires’ especially now that issues of rape and even killings are on the rise in the country?
“What the NYSC woman in Ebonyi did is most reprehensible. If she allows her children to go about the streets half-naked, she should learn to commend those who chose to cover up their bodies,” the woman rights body said.
*NYSC insist the women violated corps dress code
Meanwhile, the NYSC on Monday maintained that their Ebonyi office did not deviate from the rules and use of its uniforms, which has been in use since 1973.
The NYSC in a statement by its Director of Press and Public Relations, Mrs. Adenike Adeyemi, said while the NYSC has not changed from its traditional uniforms, it however allows serving members to use white hijab, even as she maintained that such hijab must not go beyond shoulder length
“For the avoidance of doubt, the scheme has maintained one dress code since 22nd May, 1973 it was established, devoid of ethnic, religious or gender bias.
“The dress code remains, depending on the activity: a pair of khaki trousers and shirt; crested vest; white vest; a pair of white shorts; a pair of zebra-striped socks; a pair of jungle boots; a pair of canvas; belt and fez cap.
“It is imperative to state that the National Youth Service Corps Camp, predicated on discipline and decency, is a training ground for Corps Members. Any other dress code, contrary to the officially sanctioned one will not promote the course of decency”.
She insisted that a female Corps member embarking on obstacle crossing, and other physical training activities on camp, in skirt or gown, will expose her indecently, thus, leaving little or nothing to imagination.
She also warned Corps members who reshape their khaki trousers, making them skin-tight thus exposing their curvatures, or converting their trousers into skirt, violate NYSC rules.
“It was for that reason that the Scheme came up with the policy of having prospective Corps Members sign an undertaking form to the effect that they will not deface the NYSC uniform, but abide by the dress code of the Corps.
“It is apt to state that NYSC does not issue hijab as part of the dress code. Rather, the Scheme permits the use of white hijab which must not be more than shoulder length and must be tucked into the uniform”.
She explained that permitting the use of hijab does not deface the NYSC uniforms adding that proper approvals were obtained before the permit was given.