TMC PRESS RELEASE
The Muslim Congress (TMC)
Address: 9A, Wing 1, Abiodun Fashakin Crescent, Idi-Iroko Bus Stop, Anthony, Lagos.
website: tmcng.net e-mail: [email protected] Tel.: 0803 309 6636, 0803 716 1469
Thursday, 23rd June, 2022
The Muslim Congress has lauded the verdict of the Supreme Court of Nigeria approving the use of Hijab in government-owned schools in Lagos State. The ruling ends a long-drawn legal battle over the constitutionality of the head-covering clothing for female Muslim students. The Supreme court upheld the appellate court judgement which had earlier set aside the jaundiced decision of the High Court, Lagos State, banning female Muslim students from wearing the Hijab to school. The apex court rightly deemed the ruling a violation of the fundamental rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, dignity of human persons and freedom from discrimination.
The Hijab has become the subject of fierce debate following the lawsuit filed by two 12-year-old girls of Atunrashe Junior High School, Surulere, Lagos, Asiyat AbdulKareem and Maryam Oyeniyi, in 2014 under the aegis of the Lagos Area Unit of Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), after they were barred from school for wearing the Hijab. The apex court ruling, which marks a hard-fought victory after 8 years of legal proceedings, should serve as a landmark case on discrimination at public spaces and a boost for religious protection and freedom.
The court judgement underscores the need for guarantees of religious freedom to extend to workplaces where discriminatory policies are often used in subjugating citizens who choose to uphold their religious beliefs. The Federal Government must see this development as part of the effort to create a truly inclusive society where religion and culture are not just respected but also protected. Authorities in public institutions, leadership of organizations and business owners must brush up on the nuances of bias and do more to accommodate the diverse background of their workforce. The right of Muslims students and workers to worship must be respected especially the observance of the Friday (Jumat) prayers at its appointed time. For all intents and purposes, this court verdict should impact how our diversity is accounted for.
We urge the Lagos State Government to effectuate the judgement without delay and ensure full compliance by school authorities in the State. The teachers who take sadistic pleasure in tormenting female Muslim students, for daring to appear modest, must be treated with the full force of the law to serve as deterrent to many who are wont to flout the rule in contemptuous disregard for the court verdict. We also urge Muslims never to cower in the face of any intimidating attempt to abuse their Allah-given rights.
The Muslim Congress congratulates the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, Lagos Area Unit in particular, and by extension the Nigerian Muslim community for their courage and determination; the parents of the students for their stoical attitude to outface the uphill struggle, for without the unwavering collective resolve to take the long walk, this victory might have just been a mirage.
We, therefore, commend the tenacity of the pro-Hijab legal team led by Alh Gani Adetola-Kazeem of blessed memory, who signed and filed the brief of argument few weeks before his death. History will forever be kind to the late legal icon for this great feat. We pray Allah overlook his failings, have mercy on him and grant him the best of place in Paradise. We salute the bravery and astuteness of the legal team and also acknowledge the contributions of all who played a part in achieving this glorious triumph. May Allah honour them all in this world and the afterlife.
It has indeed been a long road to justice.
Alhaji AbdulWasiu Taiwo Bangbala