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Supreme Court okays use of hijab in Lagos public schools

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THE Supreme Court has approved the use of hijab by Muslim female students in Lagos State.

A ruling upholding the use of hijab in schools owned by the Lagos State government was delivered by the Supreme Court in Abuja on Friday.

The case with the file number CA/L/135/15 was between the Lagos State Government, Asiyat AbdulKareem (through her father), Moriam Oyeniyi and the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria.


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Justice Modupe Onyeabo of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja, had passed a judgment on October 17, 2014, which banned the use of hijab in public primary and secondary schools in Lagos State.

A five-man special appellate court panel, presided by Justice A.B. Gumel, on July 21, 2016, overruled Onyeabo’s judgment.

The Lagos State government attempted to stop the execution of the July 21, 2016 judgment at the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal but failed.

In February 2017, the state government approached the Supreme Court to further challenge the July 21, 2016 judgment of the Justice Gumel-led special panel of the Court of Appeal.

The Justice Gumel panel had held that the ban on hijab was discriminatory against Muslim pupils in the state.

In its ruling on Friday, the Supreme Court affirmed the rights of the Muslim female students to wear hijab to schools without any form of discrimination or penalty.

The use of hijab in Lagos State government-owned schools was okayed by a majority decision of the seven member panel of justices of the Supreme Court.

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While six of those on the panel ruled in favour of the use of hijab, one of them disagreed.

The panel of justices of the Supreme Court which deliberated on the matter comprised of Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, Justice John Inyang Okoro, Justice Uwani Aji, Justice Mohammed Garba, Justice Tijjani Abubakar and Justice Emmanuel Agim.

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Raji Olatunji is a Journalist at The International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR). You can send him an email at rolatunji@icirnigeria.org. He tweets @olazrajj

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