High Court rules on Hijab in public schools

Yinka Salaam, Osogbo

Some students of Baptist High School Iwo, Osun state dressed in the Hijab

Lawyers engaged in verbal war before Justice Jide Falola of an Osun State High Court, Osogbo, over the litigation on the use of Hijab by Muslim female students in public schools on Friday.

The case was instituted by Osun State Muslim Community against Osun State Government, seeking the order of the court to allow Muslim female use hijab in public schools before the state Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) joined the suit.

The argument started yesterday when the Counsel representing Christian Lawyers Association of Nigeria, Akin Akintoye, on the invitation of the court, told the court that the hijab case came up when insurgency was gathering momentum, noting that the trend of suicide bombinsg has now attracted international concern.

He argued that President Muhammadu Buhari had said he was considering a ban on wearing of hijab in the public, urging the court to dismiss the application of the applicant and disallow use of hijab.

In a swift reaction, lead-Counsel to Muslim lawyers, Mr Qaseem Odedeji, urged the court to call Akintoye to order, saying  “it is injustice and failure to accord people their fundamentally given right that brings enmity and hatred in the society.”

He noted that the applicants had chosen the rule of law to ventilate their grievances, wondering why his colleague was linking terrorism with the present case.

According to the Muslim lawyer, there has not been any report that the president had banned or planning to ban use of hijab, as he explained that “only the issue of face veil was raised and is not applicable in the present case because the applicants are not praying for use of veil by students.

If some students commit exam malpractices by writing something in their pants, can we because of that ban others from wearing pants again.

Nigeria has not banned the use of Hilux Van despite that some terrorists use the Van to commit crime,” he submitted.

Mr Qaseem urged the court to allow Muslim female students use their hijab for fairness and equity sake and in accordance with their religion doctrine.

The presiding Judge, Justice Jide Falola, before his ruling, maintained that challenges before education system were larger than fighting over how students appear in school.

He said cultists were now in primary school, and mentioned exam malpractices, failure, among others as problems in the education system.

Justice Falola said “I want to castigate the government because it is indecision of the past and present government that allow continuation of cases like this.”

Recalling the crisis the case had caused in the past, Justice Falola advised the parties to discuss and resolve the issue and file terms of settlement before the judgment.

He adjourned the case indefinitely for judgment.