Students appeal judgment banning hijab in Lagos schools

Students appeal judgment banning hijab in Lagos schools

Yvonne Williams

Female Muslim students in Lagos have urged the Court of Appeal to reverse the decision of a Lagos State High Court, which banned the use of hijab (head to shoulder veil used by Muslim women) in public primary and secondary schools in Lagos State.

Justice G.M. Onyeabo had on October 17, 2014, dismissed a suit filed by two female Muslim students of Atunrashe Junior High School, Surelere, Asiyat Abdulkareem and Maryam Oyeniyi, who challenged the ban on hijab.

The students had sued for themselves and on behalf of others under the umbrella of the Registered Trustees of Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria.

The applicants had headed for the court in protest against the decision of the Vice Principal of their school, who sometime in January 2012, directed all students and teachers wearing hijabs to remove them.

They had urged the court to declare that the ban on hijab violated their rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, dignity of human persons and freedom from discrimination guaranteed by the Nigerian constitution.

But Onyeabo dismissed the suit, holding that the ban was neither discriminatory nor a breach of sections 38 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution as argued by Chief Gani Adetola-Kazeem, who represented the students.

The judge held that allowing the use of hijab in public schools, as prayed by the students, would jeopardise Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution, which makes Nigeria a secular state.

“The values of plurality and the respect for the rights of others who have subscribed to a non-faith based educational system cannot be breached,” the judge had said.


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