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Muslim groups kick against ban on Hijab in schools

By Sulaimon Salau
10 August 2018   |   4:10 am
Muslim groups in the country have berated the continuous ban on Hijab in Lagos schools, despite a subsisting order in the Court of Appeal.

Muslim groups in the country have berated the continuous ban on Hijab in Lagos schools, despite a subsisting order in the Court of Appeal.

Lagos State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Abdullateef Abdulakeem, had on Tuesday declared: “hijab ban remains in Lagos until the Supreme Court decides.”

The National Council of Muslim Youth Organisation (NACOMYO) Lagos State Chapter, and the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN) B-Zone, said it is unfortunate that Lagos State government can chose the path of lawlessness and allow itself to be blindfolded by religious sentiment.
Amir, MSSN B-Zone, Barr Qaasim Odedeji in a statement yesterday said “the Osun State High Court and Court of Appeal, Lagos division with their full panel of five justices of that court in their separate judgements on 3rd day of June, 2016 and 21st of July, 2016 gave judgments in favour of the use of hijab in schools and the Court of Appeal upheld our appeal and dismissed the earlier decision of Hon Justice Onyeabo as one delivered in error.

“Though the Lagos state government succumbed to the pressure of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and appealed to the supreme court. No stay of execution of the judgment was granted by either the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court. It is an elementary position of the law that “an appeal does not operate as a stay” and successful litigants must be allowed to reap the fruit of their labour.

“It is quite surprising and sad that Lagos State government can chose the path of lawlessness and allow itself to be blindfolded by religious sentiment and be influenced by Christian Association of Nigeria to go against the unanimous decision of the Court of Appeal on the use of hijab,” he stated.

The group said the government’s action is tantamount to denial of the female Muslims rights to the use of hijab in education institutions despite the decision of the Court of Appeal.

“We call on well-meaning Nigerians, the civil society organisations and all lovers of peace to call Lagos State governor and his co-conspirators to order before it is too late.

“MSSN B-Zone has resolved and determined more than ever before to fight this brazen lawlessness and insensitivity of the highest order with every lawful means at our disposal.

“Based upon the above, we have called on our members in public schools in Lagos to wear their hijab on their school uniforms from the beginning of next session in line with the Court of Appeal decision; and we shall not tolerate anybody, no matter his/her status, who may want to stand in their ways in doing so,” he stated.
NACOMYO, Lagos State chapter said the state government is only “dodging the inevitable”.

General Secretary, NACOMYO Lagos State Chapter, Dr Abd’Wasi’ Babatunde Moshood, said before this insensitive comment, is that the state government had sent circular to all the 6 Educational Districts to liberalise the use of hijab in its public schools by not punishing any pupil who might want to use it.

“But this comment has confirmed the worst fear of Muslims on the policies and actions of this government as they affect Muslims in the state.

“We like to point out that the supremacy of the rule of law is the hallmark of the democracy currently in practise in the country. This includes obedience to judgments of court of law by all, irrespective of one’s status in the society. However, we are not unmindful of the judicial practice that obedience to a judgment of court can be delayed only if there is a valid appeal backed by a stay of execution of the judgment being appealed against.

“The Commissioner has rightly informed Lagosians that his Government has appealed the Court of Appeal judgment. But with the greatest respect, our highly revered brother and Commissioner has failed, refused, and neglected to tell Lagosians whether the Lagos State Government has gotten a stay of execution of the judgment of the Court of Appeal in other to justify this executive lawlessness of the Lagos State Government,”

“We like to assure all Muslims that this recent position of the State Government is a boisterous attempt to dodge the inevitable and start wailing ahead of the impending crushing defeat the State Government will, insha Allah, suffer at the apex court. This will further put gloss on the shine of our victory by putting a permanent guarantee on our constitutional right to freedom of worship, and give the hijab issue a Nationalistic flavour,” he stated.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), also threw a jab at the Lagos State government on the hijab issue. “LASG should have allowed the use of hijab in schools when the Supreme Court rejected its application for stay of execution. Its continued refusal to allow the use of hijab is capable of being interpreted as deliberate perpetuation of anti-Muslim policies.

Director, MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola, said: “In view of the fact that the constitution of any nation is the font et origo of all laws, codes, ordinances, rules and regulations of that country, Lagos as the center of excellence in Nigeria should not have allowed the issue of hijab to become so contentious to the extent that it became a matter of litigation. Lagos should have liberalized the matter and allowed the use of hijab by female Muslim pupils in its public schools.”

He appealed to Muslims to understand that the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Dr. Abdulateef Abdulhakeem, works for government and what he said reflected the official position of the state government and not his personal opinion.

““What was reported was not exactly what he said. What he said reflected the official position of the state government. It was not his personal opinion. His response may have been different if asked about his personal opinion. But that would have breached protocol. Once you are in government you owe total allegiance to that government. That does not diminish from your faith as a Muslim, Akintola said.