Supreme Court Upholds Hijab Wearing in Lagos Schools


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The Supreme Court’s decision to preserve the wearing of the hijab in Lagos schools was met with joy. The verdict was delivered on Friday in Abuja.

Miss Asiyat AbdulKareem (extreme left), her father (Second Right) and members of the winning legal team.

The Lagos State Government’s appeal was dismissed by the supreme court, which supported the use of hijab in Lagos schools. The usage of hijab in Lagos schools was supported by a majority of the panel’s seven justices.

In an 80-page lead judgment, Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun held that the hijab prohibition in Lagos State was discriminatory towards Muslim pupils.

Other Justices on the panel were Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, Justice John Inyang Okoro, Justice Uwani Aji, Justice Mohammed Garba, Justice Tijjani Abubakar, and Justice Emmanuel Agim.

The Context

The Lagos State Government has prohibited students from wearing the hijab, claiming that it was not part of the approved school uniform.

On May 27, 2015, Muslim students filed a lawsuit demanding remedy and urging the court to declare the ban as a violation of their rights to freedom of thought, religion and education.

At February 2017, the Lagos State Government filed a petition with the Supreme Court, challenging the Court of Appeal’s July 21, 2016 decision, which reinstated Muslim students’ right to wear hijab in public primary and secondary schools in Lagos.

The state government had unsuccessfully sought a stay of execution of the ruling at the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal. The Lagos State Government, Miss Asiyat AbdulKareem (via her father), Miss Moriam Oyeniyi, and the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria are involved in the CA/L/135/15 case.

 

 

On July 21, 2016, a five-member special appellate court bench led by Justice A.B. Gumel overruled Justice Modupe Onyeabo of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja’s October 17, 2014 order prohibiting the wearing of the hijab in public primary and secondary schools in Lagos State.

The Justice Gumel panel had ruled that the hijab prohibition was discriminatory towards Muslim students in the state, while overturning Justice Onyeabo’s decision.

The panel agreed with the Muslim students that the ban infringed on their rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, human dignity, and nondiscrimination, as protected by the 1999 Constitution.

Wearing the hijab is also an Islamic mandate and a needed act of worship for Muslims, according to Justice Gumel.

“The use of hijab by Muslim pupils could not cause disunity, distraction and discrimination against students of other faiths as declared by the lower court judge,” he stated.

Supreme Court judgement should put a stop to the “undue” punishment of students willing to wear the hijab

Supreme Court Decision Should Put An End To “Undue” Punishment Of Hijab Wearing Students- MSSN Lagos

Miftahudeen Thanni, the Amir (President) of MSSN in Lagos State, said that with the judgement, students in public primary and secondary schools in Lagos State can now wear hijab to school without harassment.

He encouraged teachers and government officials against harassment of female Muslim students, urging that the Supreme Court judgement should put a stop to the “undue” punishment of students willing to wear the hijab.

Thanni, on the other hand, guaranteed the state government and residents of peaceful co-existence, noting that Muslim students won’t abuse the judgement.

 

The Niqab Case: Mariam Afeez V. FUNAAB’s High Court Decision

 

According to him, the decision has increased students’ and Nigerians’ trust in the legal system.

“The judgement simply means that though hijab is not mandatory in Lagos schools, Muslim students who wish to wear it are free to do so and legally allowed,” he explained.

“We are a law-abiding organisation and we will continue to uphold the law of the land. We applaud the judgement. The position of the law is very clear on the subject matter. This matter once more assures us that all hope is not lost on having a modest society.

“The government should not be waging war against youths who chose to cover their nakedness while encouraging those who walk naked and engage in illicit acts in public.

“It gladdens to see that the injunction which the LASG is using as a basis to deny the rights of Muslim students has been decided by the apex court.

“We hereby urge all stakeholders to be law-abiding for a peaceful implementation of the judgement. There should be no violation of human rights against our students while we expect an immediate implementation of the judgement in all schools across the state. We urge the government not to delay implementation.”

Thanni congratulated and thanked Muslims and the legal team for their recent victory, “We congratulate the entire Muslim Ummah (community) and urge our Muslim students to uphold decency and cleanliness which are the hallmark of Islam while exercising their rights. We also pray to Allah to forgive the shortcomings of the late Alhaji Adetola Kassim (SAN) who started this case without collecting a dime from us.”

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