Lagos —There was wild jubilation at the premises of the Court of
Appeal in Lagos State, yesterday, when the right to wear Hijab,
Islamic headscarf, in public primary and secondary schools was
After the judgement, Muslim faithful were seen shouting ‘ Allahu
Akbar’, ‘Alihamdulilah ’, meaning Allah is the greatest and all
thanks is due to Allah, respectively.
But in a swift reaction, the Lagos State government said it is still
studying the judgement.
In a telephone reaction, Commissioner for Information, Mr Steve
Ayorinde, said the appellate court delivered its judgement based on
its wisdom but the government will have to study it critically to
know the next line of action.
Ayorinde, who reacted based on the earlier telephone calls made to
the state Attorney General, Mr Adeniji Kazeem said: “The position
of the Lagos State government is that we have to study the
judgement and the reason behind it. We are all aware that Lagos
State and indeed the entire country is a secular state as prescribed
by the Constitution and that issue of religion must always be
approached with great caution, especially in multi-religious state
like Lagos. So, we need to exercise restraint before our next line of
With yesterday’s verdict, Muslim students in Lagos State public
schools have the right to wear Hijab on their school uniform both
within and outside their school premises.
While delivering the verdict, the justices set aside the ruling of the
Lagos State High Court, which had disallowed the use of Hijab.
During the panel hearing, the presiding justice, A.B. Gumel, also
asked parties involved in the case to update their defence
Other Justices in the panel set up by Appeal Court President,
Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa are Justice M. Fasanmi, Justice A.
Jauro, Justice J.S. Ikejegh and Justice Jombo Ofor.
The case is between Asiyat Kareem (Minor) suing through Mr.
AbdulKareem Raji; Mariam Oyeniyi through Mr. Sulaimon Oyeniyi;
and Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, Lagos State Area Unit
(suing through its president, Saheed Ashafa), against Lagos State
Government (LASG) and others, who were the respondent.
Justice Amina Augie of the Court of Appeal, Lagos had earlier
affirmed that granting Muslim students the right to wear Hijab in
Lagos State schools needed constitutional interpretation.
Justice Augie, while granting the right to hear a case on the Hijab
matter on May 3, asked the appellants to write the Appeal Court
president 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.
Counsel to the appellant students, Mr Mohammed Lawal, in his
reaction lauded the judgement and described it as victory of truth
On the position of law as enunciated by the Court of Appeal, the
lawyer said: “The constitution of Nigeria recognises multi religion
state not secular, so whenever any of our religious rights is being
infringed upon, we need to demand for our right and that is what we
“The state has said in its policy statement that Hijab is only
allowed during Islamic activities, however with the position of the
judgement today (Thursday) things have changed. The court stated
that the state was not able to show which policy it stated
contradicted the usage of Hijab in public schools and that where
such policy exist, it cannot override the provision of the
constitution, which allows the appellants to practice their faith.
“Any student harassed by any teacher or principal can take this up
because if such thing happens, that is a contempt of the court.”
President of Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria in Lagos State,
Saheed Ashafa, expressed delight over the ruling.
While saying the right to wear Hijab was long overdue, Ashafa
urged all parties to act in accordance with the judgement.
He said: “This is victory for Islam. Victory to Muslims. The words
of Allah have come to pass. We are glad that there are few judges
whose neutrality has not be stained by sentiment.''
“We wonder why we had to face so many challenges before our
right is granted. This recognition and truthful interpretation on
freedom of religion as enshrined in the Nigeria constitution (Section
36) and United Nations Charter, will further strengthen public trust
in the judiciary.''
‘’Today will remain historic in the life of every Muslim in Lagos and
Nigeria as a whole. We will remain law abiding and appeal to all
and sundry not to act in ways and manners that are contrary to the
judgement. ‘This should mark the end to harassment,
embarrassment, victimisation, cheat and allacts of wickedness
unleashed on Muslim female students who wear the Hijab.”
Also, Amirah of MSSN in Lagos State, Hafsah Badru, described the
Hijab as a religious garment, which should be put on at all times.
“Injustice can never prevail over justice, truth will always prevail
over falsehood; the commands of Allah are supreme over all man
made laws. Allah is the Greatest. We have not asked anyone not to
observe their religious right in respect to legality, we have only
asked that ours should not be tampered upon, and as Allah wants
it, we have the right granted,” she said.
The Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, hailed the verdict of the Court
of Appeal. The association in a statement signed by its Director,
Prof. Ishaq Akintola said the ruling had restored hope in the
judiciary as the last hope of the common man.