Protest as Lagos court adjourns judgment on hijab ban suit

courtAn Ikeja High Court on Friday adjourned judgment till October 17 in a suit challenging the ban on hijab (Muslim headscarf) in public primary and secondary schools in Lagos State.

The adjournment was necessitated by the ongoing activities marking the 2014/2015 Legal Year by the state judiciary.

It was further gathered that the Registrar of Justice Grace Onyeabo’s court had sent notices of the adjournment to parties in the suit.

However, the plaintiffs, the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria, Lagos State Chapter, who were unaware of the adjournment, gathered at the premises of the court as early as 8am for the judgment.

Following notification that the judgment had been postponed, the students staged a peaceful protest outside the court to express their disapproval over the ban.

The placard-carrying protesters, with the inscriptions: “No election, No vote”, “Hijab ban is unconstitutional”, and “Hijab is our pride,” urged the state government to rescind its decision on the ban.

The government had banned the use of hijab, saying it was not part of the approved school uniform for pupils.

Following the ban, the students filed a suit against the government on May 27, 2013, asking the court to declare the ban as unconstitutional.

At the last proceeding, their counsel, Ahmed Adetola-Kazeem, had in a 24-paragraph affidavit, urged the court to lift the ban.

Adetola-Kazeem argued that the wearing of headscarf was a fundamental right as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.

He said: “We are not demanding full hijab.

“We have exhibited a photograph of a sample of hijab, which still represents their school identity.

“The colour of the hijab can conform to the school uniform.

“All we want is for the students to be allowed to use hijab.

“If beret and caps are allowed for female students, hijab shouldn’t be an exemption.”

Opposing the application, the Lagos State Government, represented by Samuel Ajanaku, argued that hijab could only be used on special occasions such as religious classes and prayer sessions.