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Hijab Ban Appeal: Court Scolds Lagos, Adjourns Till May 3

By MSSN Lagos
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The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos has scolded the Lagos State Government for not filling response to the appeal against the ban on Hijab in Secondary schools in Lagos State.

The LASG was scolded by the lead judge, Hon. Justice Sidi Bage, during the hearing of an appeal case against ban on Hijab on Monday at Igbosere, Lagos.

It would be recalled that the Court of Appeal had on Thursday, November 19, 2015 heard the appellant motion against the ban on the Muslim headscarf.

The Lagos State Government banned the use of Hijab on the argument that it was not part of the approved school uniform for students.

Subsequently, members of the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, Lagos State Area Unit proceeded to court to seek redress and protect Muslim females from being flogged, embarrassed, and victimised for using the Hijab within and outside school premises.

In the High Court Ruling, Justice Grace Modupe Onyeabo earlier ruled against the use of Hijab because of the “secularity” of Lagos State.

After the High Court judgement, the appeal court was approached but the Counsel for Lagos State Government did not file a respondent brief.

Instead, the LASG counsel, who is a Chief State Counsel Mr. Oluwole Ligali, filed a motion for extension during the Monday’s hearing and also pleaded to file response within one week.

However, the lead judge faulted the LASG, alleging that the government was “playing with a case of public interest”.

Earlier Bar. Wasiu Amoo who led other seven other lawyers representing the appellants withdrew their motion, asking the Court to set down the matter for hearing since LASG has eventually filled their motion asking for the Court to allow them file their Respondent brief out of time.

After granting the request, the case was subsequently adjourned till May 3, 2016.

Reacting to the sitting, the President of the MSSN Lagos, Saheed Ashafa, expressed displeasure over what he described as delay tactics of the LASG.

He added that regardless of the plot of the LASG, the society won’t be discouraged in ensuring that the fundamental right of Muslim females to wear Hijab was not trampled upon.

He said, “We will continue to be peaceful and we urge Muslims community to impregnate themselves with patience regardless of the distracting tactics by the LASG. We are highly dissatisfied at the slow response of the LASG to the court process. God willing; we will not relent in our demand for full recognition of our rights. The use of Hijab by students in Lagos State-owned schools is an inalienable right.”

The appellants had earlier complained about the flogging of an eleven-year-old student of Kadara Junior High School, Ebute Metta, Aisha Alabi, on February 5, 2013, on the assembly ground by her principal, Mrs. E.C Ukpaka, for not removing her Hijab after coming out of an Islamic Religious Knowledge (IRK) class where it is ordinarily permitted to wear the Hijab.

They also alleged that on February 20, 2013, Bareerah Tajudeen of Mafoloku Senior Grammar School, Oshodi had her Hijab removed and trampled upon by her principal, Mrs. Elizabeth Omidele, outside the school premises.

On her part, the Amirah (female head) of the MSSN Lagos, Hajia Hafsah Badru expressed displeasure over the increasing human right abuse against Muslim pupils in Lagos public schools.

She said, “It is appalling that despite the recognition of the freedom of religion as contained in the Nigeria constitution (Section 36) and United Nations Charter, it is quite sad that Muslim pupils that wear the Hijab are victims of undue harassment and abuse.

“Without bias, an abuse carried out against anyone’s freedom to uphold the tenets of his/her religion is a disrespect and disregard to the constitution and it constitutes a grievous abuse on human right. It is shameful that human right abuses are increasing in Nigeria at a point when it should be decreasing.”