COURT UPHOLDS BAN ON FEMALE MUSLIM STUDENTS WEARING HIJAB IN LAGOS PUBLIC SCHOOL

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An Ikeja High Court on Friday upheld Lagos State Government’s ban on the wearing of Hijab (Muslim head scarf) in public primary and secondary schools in the state.

Two 12-year-old girls under the aegis of the Muslim Students of Nigeria, Lagos State Area Unit, dragged the state government to court following the ban and filed the suit on May 27, 2013, seeking redress and asked the court to declare the ban as a violation of their rights to freedom of thought, religion and education..

But Justice Modupe Onyeabor dismissed the suit on the ground that Hijab was not part of the approved school uniform for pupils, adding that the prohibition as part of uniform within and outside the premises of public schools was not discriminatory.

According to her, the ban does not violate sections 38 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution as claimed by the plaintiffs.
The judge said Section 10 of the Constitution made Nigeria a secular state and that government must maintain neutrality at all times.

Onyeabor said the government therefore had a duty to preserve the secular nature of the institutions concerned as argued by the Lagos State Solicitor-General, Mr Lawal Pedro (SAN).

The judge, however, observed that the uniformity sought by the government in the issuance of the dress code would be destroyed, should the prayers of the plaintiffs be granted.

“The non-Hijab wearing students will feel inferior to those who are putting on Hijab.

“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.

“In that effect, the issue is resolved in favour of the respondents and the suit is accordingly dismissed,’’ Onyeabor said.

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