The Supreme Court has ruled that Muslim Female Students in Lagos State can wear hijab to school.
Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, who wrote the lead majority judgement, which was read by Justice Tijani Abubakar, dismissed the appeal on the grounds that the appeal was without merit.
A split decision of five to two of a seven-member panel of the Supreme Court affirmed the July 21, 2016 judgement of the Court of Appeal, Lagos, which set aside the October 17, 2014 judgement by Justice Grace Onyeabo of the High Court of Lagos State, which upheld the hijab restriction.
A Lagos High Court had in October 2014, ruled against the use of hijabs in schools, a judgement that was upturned by an Appeal Court in July, 2016.
In a unanimous judgement, the Appeal Court noted that the ban was discriminatory against Muslim pupils in Lagos State.
Dissatisfied with the appellate court’s judgement, the state government took the case to the Supreme Court.
It subsequently placed a ban on the use of hijab in August 2018.
Justices on the Supreme Court panel were Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Justice John Inyang Okoro, Justice Uwani Aji, Justice Mohammed Garba, Justice Tijjani Abubakar and Justice Emmanuel Agim.
There was a dissenting judgement, while five of the seven Justices of the panel upheld the rights of students to adore their hijab in school.
The court upheld that the ban violated the Muslim students’ rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, the dignity of human persons and freedom from discrimination guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution.
There were reactions and jubilations by the students and their leaders, especially the Amir (President) of the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, Lagos State Area Unit, Miftahudeen Thanni, and other members of the organisation.
In his reaction, the Amir, (president) of the student association said, ” 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.
“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.”
While congratulating and thanking Muslims and the legal team on the recent victory, Thanni said, “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.”