THE Amirah of Lagos State Area Unit Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Hajia Hafsah Badru, yesterday urged the Lagos State Government to immediately implement the Court of Appeal ruling on the right of female pupils to wear hijab (Islamic headscarf) in public primary and secondary schools across the state.
A special five-man panel of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, yesterday set aside the judgment of Justice Modupe Onyeabor of an Ikeja High Court, on October 17, 2014, which banned pupils in state-owned primary and secondary schools from wearing the hijab on their school uniforms.
In a unanimous decision, the court, presided over by Justice A. B. Gumel held that the appeal was meritorious and should be allowed.
It also held that the refusal to allow female Muslim pupils wear the hijab “will amount to discrimination on the ground of their religion.”
Other Justices in the panel are Justice M. Fasanmi, Justice A. Jauro, Justice J. S. Ikyegh and Justice I. Jombo Ofor.
Justice Gumel held that “the wearing hijab is an Islamic injunction and also an act of worship,” hence it will constitute “a clear violation of the appellants’ constitutionally guaranteed rights to stop them from wearing the hijab in public schools.”
Hajia Badru urged stakeholders in the Education sector, especially the principals and teachers, to abide by the ruling.
She said it would be an offence to molest or harass any female pupil who wears hijab on her uniform henceforth, adding that MSSN would not hesitate to take necessary action in accordance with the law to ensure justice for any pupil molested or harassed.
The Amirah urged all female pupils to ensure the proper use of the hijab, because it is a garment of honour, adding: “They should hold the moral teaching which hijab has brought and strive towards academic excellence. They should emulate Asiyah AbdulKareem, who despite the persecution, still excel, to the point of recognition by the Lagos State government,” she said.
She thanked the Adetola Kazeem SAN-led legal team and all those who joined in the struggle from onset, saying: “Verily at the end of the tunnel, there is light.”