The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal has reversed the judgment of a Lagos State High Court in Ikeja which on October 17, 2014 banned the use of hijab in Lagos State public primary and secondary schools.
The appellate declared in a unanimous judgment on Thursday that the ban was discriminatory against Muslim pupils in the state.
The special panel of the Court of Appeal set up to hear the case had on May 27 reserved its judgement on the matter.
During the panel hearing, the presiding justice, A.B. Gumel, had asked parties involved in the case to update their defence documents.
Other Justices in the five-man panel set up by the 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 AbdulKareem Raji; Mariam Oyeniyi through Mr. Sulaimon Oyeniyi; and Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, Lagos State Area Unit, and Lagos State Government (LASG) and others, who were the respondents.
Justice Amina Augie had on May 3 ruled that granting Muslim students the right to wear Hijab in Lagos State schools needed constitutional interpretation.
Justice Augie therefore asked the appellants to write the President of the 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.
The Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, Lagos State Area Unit, however, expressed optimism over the outcome of judgement.
Ashafa said the position of the constitution was clear on Freedom of Religion, Conscience and Thought.
He added, “It is appalling that despite the recognition of freedom of religion in the Nigeria constitution (Section 36) and United Nations Charter, we still need to labour this much. This is enough victimisation.
“Without bias, an abuse carried out against anyone’s freedom to practise the tenets of his/her religion is a disrespect and disregard to the constitution and it constitutes a grievous abuse on human right.”