Supreme Court upholds students’ rights to wear hijab to Lagos schools
POLITICS DIGEST- The Supreme Court on Friday gave approval to female Muslim students to wear hijab to school in Lagos State.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that five out of the seven members of the court’s panel which sat on the case ruled in favour of hijab while the two remaining members dissented.
The majority decision affirmed the earlier Court of Appeal’s decision which restored the use of hijab by female Muslim students in Lagos State.
The case involved the Lagos State Government as the appellant and Asiyat AbdulKareem (through her father), Moriam Oyeniyi, and the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria as the respondents.
Judge Grace Onyeabo of the Lagos State High Court had in a judgement, on October 17, 2014, upheld the state government’s decision to ban the use of hijab in public primary and secondary schools in the state.
But the High Court’s decision was upturned by the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal in a judgement delivered on July 21, 2016.
In a unanimous judgement, the appeal court panel ruled that the ban on the use of hijab in public schools in the state was discriminatory against Muslim pupils.
Displeased with the judgement, the Lagos State government attempted to obtain a stay of execution of the Court of Appeal’s decision but failed.
In February 2017, it appealed against the July 21, 2016 judgement of the Court of Appeal.
Lagos State government became the appellant in the suit marked SC/910/16.
Delivering judgement in the case on Friday, five members of the seven-member bench affirmed the Court of Appeal’s decision.
It dismissed the appeal challenging the Court of Appeal’s decision as lacking in merit.
The Supreme Court’s majority lead decision was prepared by Kudirat Kekere-Ekun but was read on her behalf by another member of the panel, Tijjani Abubakar.
Other members of the panel are Olukayode Ariwoola, John Okoro, Uwani Baba-Aji, Mohammed Garba, and Emmanuel Agim.
The Court of Appeal had ruled that the hijab ban violated the students’ rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, the dignity of human persons and freedom from discrimination guaranteed by the Nigerian
A.B Gumel, who delivered the lead judgement of the Court of Appeal panel, held that wearing the hijab was an Islamic injunction and an act of worship required of Muslims.
He said 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.