▪︎Hijab mandatory on every Muslim female in public places – Aishat’s lawyer
▪︎ Human rights are applicable to all whether adults or minors – HRAI
▪︎The ruling can not stand the test of time – The Muslim Congress
An Ogun State High Court sitting in Abeokuta has declared as non-violation of human rights, the prevention of Muslim minors from using hijab in public schools in the state.
Justice Olusola John Bamgbose who gave this judgement on Thursday after a legal battle that lasted for about one and a half years, said that it is only the fundamental human right of women to use hijab and not that of minors.
Muslim News can recall that the court of Appeal in Lagos had on July 21, 2016 ruled in favour of the use of hijab before a related case was brought before Justice Bamgbose of Court 8 in the suite number AB/5271/2018.
A nine-year-old Aishat Abdul-Aleem had in December 2018, through her next friend, Muhammadu dragged the Principal of Gateway Secondary school, Mrs Kushimo, and Ogun State Government to court for violating her fundamental human right to use the hijab while in school.
Justice Bamgbose while delivering his judgement said he did not grant the prayers of Aishat because of the fact that she is not a Muslim woman but a minor.
The judge said he hinged his decision on the interpretations of the provision of the constitutions, previous judgements in similar cases, related provisions in the Qur’an and Bible as well as scholarly definitions of the words “women” and “minors”.
On this basis, Justice Bamgbose refused the prayers in the application of Aishat sought to declare as violation of her fundamental human right, prevention of use of hijab in public schools in Ogun state.
He added that because Aishat, who is now 11, is a minor, prevention to use hijab was not discriminatory.
The Ogun State chapter of the Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria (MULAN) led by Chief S.A Akinbami had sought the relief of the court to declare as violation of the fundamental right, the prevention of Aishat to use hijab in public school in the state.
Other prayers refused to be granted by Justice Bamgbose of Court 8 include “Perpetual injunction restraining the state government and its officers from further interfering or infringing on the fundamental human rights of Aishat to use hijab in the exercise of her rights.
“A declaration that the punishment or humiliation of the applicant by the respondents as a result of the use of hijab within the school premises is a violation of the applicants fundamental rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom from discrimination and right to the dignity of the human persons and right to education.
“A sum of one million Naira (N1,000,000.00) in damages against the Respondents jointly and severally for the anguish, inhumane treatment, harassment and hardship suffered by the applicants as a result of the defendant’s action,” he added.
The Counsel of one of the respondents, Akintola O., while referring to Chapter 24 verses 30-31 of the Qur’an, argued that, “Except the Applicant can show where in the Glorious Quran the hijab is made compulsory for minors, she cannot claim the benefit of the above quoted verse or claim that the wearing of hijab is her fundamental right in any way…”
▪︎Hijab mandatory on every Muslim female in public places – Aishat’s lawyer
The lawyer to the Applicant, Chief Semiu Akinbami replied on points of law in addition with “The following provisions of the Holy Qur’an which makes the wearing of hijab mandatory on every Muslim female in public places. See the following: (a) Quran chapter 17 verse 45 (b) Quran chapter 24 verse 31 (c) Quran chapter 33 verse 59.”
In her written address on behalf of the Ogun State Governor and three other respondents, a copy received by Muslim News, the State Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Justice, Mrs Y. Oresanya argued that the insistent of the use of hijab by Aishat and her parents in public school amount to “imposing their religious leanings as regards mode of dressing…”
The judge had adjourned the case for definite judgement today after the Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court), Mr Hibatullahi-Salako adopted his written address for consideration.
Reacting to the judgement, one of the counsels who represented the applicant in court, Mr.Saliu Bakare said the team of Lawyers from MULAN will review the judgement and come up with the next line of action.
The father of Aishat, Muhammad Abdul-Aleem who was also in court said he is prepared to appeal the judgement delivered by Justice Bamgbose.
The proceeding of the court was witnessed by the former president of the National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations and representatives of Ogun state League of Imams and Alfas led by Ustaz Jubril Lawal.
Human rights are applicable to all whether adults or minor – HRAI
Also, in her reaction, the Legal Team of Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative Team, HRAI, Barrister Maryam Odunola Arole said though she is yet to see the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the said Judgment of the High Court, the decisions of Appellate and higher courts have affirmed that Human right is applicable to all whether adults or minor.
Speaking with Muslim News, Barrister Arole said, “We would not hastly make comments. However as an organisation dedicated to fight for the rights of hijab users as enshrined in the 1999 constitution under section 38, 42, no one can be denied right to education nor discriminated upon on the basis of her religion.
“We therefore await the copy of the judgment of the court before further comments. However it doesn’t end there, as options of appeal is open. As plethora of Decisions of Appellate and higher courts have affirmed that Human right is applicable to all whether adults or minor,” she added.
Ogun Hijab ruling can not stand the test of time – The Muslim Congress
Meanwhile, The Muslim Congress (TMC) has unequivocally rejected the judgement of Justice Bamgbose Alabi which turned-down the prayers of Aishat Abdul-Aleem on the use of hijab in Ogun State public schools.
The Waali (Chairman) of the Ogun State chapter of TMC, Dr Ibrahim Ogunkoya who stated this in a statement explained that the ruling was against an already existing judgement of the Appeal court.
“We believe that the Ogun State High Court should not have trouble ruling in favour of the use of hijab in public schools in the state as a court of higher jurisdiction had ruled in its favour.
“This particular case establishes the resilience of Muslims in Ogun State in adopting legal means in addressing the violation of their human rights to worship.
“We call on the Ogun state government not to continue using the state’s resources and tax-payers’ money to support the antagonism of some religious bigots against the religious rights of Muslims in the state.
“In our view, the legal gymnastic would have not been necessary if public officials especially those at the Ministry of Education as well as their counterpart at the Ministry of Justice have been alive to their responsibilities.
“Why do state government officials ignore series of complaints of persistent abuse of Muslim students in public schools by fanatical Christians? Why does the state government tactically allow lies of some principals to continue to spread that the Ministry of Education issued a memo banning the use of hijab in public schools?
“We therefore call on the state government to be alive to its responsibility by protecting the modesty and rights of our children in public schools who have over the years become victims of abuse by fanatics who hide under implementing the order of the state government.
“The Hijab needs to be approved for our girls especially with the disturbing cases of rape in the state,” he concluded.
By Jamiu Folarin/Abeokuta
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