There was wild jubilation at the premises of the Court of Appeal in Lagos State when the right to wear Hijab (Islamic headscarf) in public primary and secondary schools was granted on Thursday, July 21, 2016. After the judgement, Muslim males and females were seen praising God and exchanging pleasantries.
Most of them were shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’, ‘Alihamdulilah’, meaning Allah is the greatest and all thanks is due to Allah respectively. With the verdict, it means that Muslim students in Lagos State public schools have the right to wear Hijab on their school uniforms both within and outside their school premises without being punished or victimised.
While delivering the verdict on Thursday, the justices set aside the verdict of the lower court (Lagos State High Court), which earlier disallowed the use of Hijab.
The special panel of the Court of Appeal set up to hear the case had previously reserved its judgement on Friday, May 27.
During the panel hearing, the presiding justice, A.B. Gumel, also asked parties involved in the case to update their defence documents.
Other Justices in the five-man panel set up by President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa are Justice M. Fasanmi, Justice A. Jauro, Justice J.S. Ikejegh and Justice I. Jombo Ofor.
The case is between Asiyat Kareem (Minor) suing through Mr. AbdulKareem Raji; Mariam Oyeniyi through Mr. Sulaimon Oyeniyi; and Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, Lagos State Area Unit (suing through its president, Saheed Ashafa), against Lagos State Government (LASG) and others, who were the respondent.
It would be recalled that Justice Amina Augie of the Court of Appeal in Lagos earlier affirmed that granting of the right to Muslim students to wear Hijab in Lagos State schools needed constitutional interpretation.
Justice Augie, while granting the right to hear a case on the Hijab matter on May 3rd, asked the appellants to write to the President of Appeal Court to set up a full court (of five justices) to hear the case.
In the case, the appellants want the judgement of the lower court to be reversed, while the defendant wants it to be upheld.
Responding to the judgement, the President of Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria in Lagos State, Saheed Ashafa, expressed delight over the pronouncement by the court.
While saying the right to wear Hijab was long overdue, Ashafa urged all parties to act in accordance with the judgement.
He said, “This is victory for Islam! Victory to Muslims. The words of Allah have come to pass. We are glad that there are few judges whose neutrality has not be stained by sentiment.
“We wonder why we had to face so many challenges before our right is granted. This recognition and truthful interpretation on freedom of religion as enshrined in the Nigeria constitution (Section 36) and United Nations Charter, will further strengthen public trust on the judiciary.
“Today will remain historic in the life of every Muslim in Lagos and Nigeria as a whole. We will remain law abiding and appeal to all and sundry not to act in ways and manners that are contrary to the judgement.
“This should mark the end to harassment, embarrassment, victimisation, cheat and all acts of wickedness unleashed on Muslim female students who wear the Hijab.”
Also, Amirah of MSSN in Lagos State, Hafsah Badru, described Hijab as a religious garment, which should be put on at all times.
“Justice can never prevail over injustice, truth will always prevail over falsehood; the commands of Allah are supreme over all man made laws. Allah is the Greatest. We have not asked anyone not to observe their religious right in respect to legality, we have only asked that ours should not be tampered upon, and as Allah wants it, we have the right granted,” she said.
She, subsequently, appreciated all Muslims and Islamic organisations who supported the Muslim students to get their right to wear Hijab on school uniform granted.