Court grants female students right to wear Hijab

Yinka Salaam, Osogbo

Female Muslim students in public primary and secondary schools in Osun state can now wear the hijab.

This is according to Justice Jide Falola of the Osun State High Court in a judgement delivered on Friday in Osogbo, the state capital.

The case was instituted in February, 2013 by the Osun State Muslim Community and Muslim Students Society of Nigeria.

The applicants had sought the relief of the court to compel the Osun state government to allow female Muslim students wear hijab in public primary and secondary schools.

The Osun State Christian Association of Nigeria, however, applied to be joined in the case as defendants arguing that Hijab should not be allowed in public schools.

In a 51-page judgement on Friday, Justice Jide Falola of the Osun State High Court ruled that the use of Hijab by female Muslims is their fundamental human right to freedom of religion, conscience and thought, and as such no female student must be molested or sent out of school for wearing it.

Justice Falola declared that since all missionary schools had been taken over by government in 1975, all students had equal rights to practice their beliefs according to the religion of their parents as granted by the constitution

He, however, warned that such Hijab must match the colour of their school uniforms.

Speaking after the judgement, the lead counsel to the applicants, Kasim Babatunde Odedeji welcomed the development as a victory for human rights.

“We, the Osun State Muslim Community and Muslim Students Society of Nigeria are happy that justice and not only judgement was served. It is a victory for justice over injustice, fairness over unfairness of some people who are remotely concerned about our inalienable right.

The judgement passes a strong message that Muslims don’t have to take laws into their hands to get justice. The court has spoken to us that the Rule of Law and the due process can always guarantee justice and it is preferred to jungle justice.

It is indeed a long journey. It took us three years of judicial sojourn and legal battle, but we are happy because we did not only get justice, we got judgement that is very rich and can stand the test of time,” he said.

Co-defendant, Christian Association of Nigeria has however vowed to appeal the judgement.

Reacting to the pledge of CAN to appeal the judgement, Odedeji said: “It is within their constitutional rights to appeal. They will meet us at the court and we will be glad they do. It will only further enrich the jurisdiction and the position of the law.”