|MURIC Director, Prof Ishaq Akintola
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has described the judgement of Justice Bamgbose Alabi of the Abeokuta High Court in Ogun State on the use of hijab by students as judicial namby-pamby.
Justice Alabi in a case filed by Aishat Abdul-Aleem, an 11-year old Muslim girl who was sent out of school at the Gateway Secondary School, Abeokuta, recently ruled that “the use of hijab is considered a fundamental human right only for adults”.
Reacting to the judgment, MURIC in a press statement signed by its Director, Prof Ishaq Akintola said: “We reject this judgement in totality. What manner of judicial declaration is this? Is the judge telling us that minors have no religion, no fundamental human rights, not even a dot in social statistics? Is he telling us that minors do not exist? Why are minors counted during census? Why do we register them at birth? Is the killing of a minor judiciable or not? This judgment suffers from desertification of a human face. It has no soul. It is judicial namby-pamby.
“By this arbitrary judgement, the judge has elected to discriminate against children on account of age. This is contrary to Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What will this judge say if a case of rape of a minor is brought to his court? Can minors ever get redress in his court? Do minors even exist as far as he is concerned?
“The judgement in the case of Aishat Abdul-Aleem is a judicial somersault. It is as arbitrary as it is absurd. It is equally an unprecedented miscarriage of justice. It cannot hold any water. We charge the litigants to approach an appellate court without delay.
“Previous judgements in hijab cases have set precedents which this judge has chosen to ignore. In the case of Abidemi Rasaq & 3Ors Vs Commissioner for Health Lagos State & 2 Ors, Suit No. ID/424M/2004. The Lagos High Court declared unconstitutional a circular issued by Lagos School of Health Technology banning the students from wearing hijab.
“Also in the case of Provost Kwara State College of Education, Ilorin vs Basirat Saliu Suit No. CA/IL/49/2009 . The Court of Appeal, Ilorin Judicial Division held thus: ‘The use of veil (hijab) by female Muslims qualifies as a fundamental right under section 38 of the Constitution.’
“The landmark declaration of the Court of Appeal in Lagos State v Miss Ashiat Abdkareem CA/L/135/15 still remains unchallenged. In his lead judgment, Justice Gumel held that the use of the Hijab was an Islamic injunction and also an act of worship hence it would constitute a violation of the appellants’ rights to stop them from wearing the Hijab in public schools.
“MURIC considers the Abeokuta judgement an extension of the persecution of Muslims in Yorubaland to the judicial terrain. The honourable justice has simply returned Ogun State to the Stone Age. By ruling that minors are not covered in fundamental human right to use hijab, the court has denied Muslim parents the opportunity to train their children in the use of hijab from childhood.
“The ruling also stands in contra-distinction to Section 38 (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which states inter alia, ‘No person attending any place of education shall be required … to take part in …ceremony or observance (which) relates to a religion other than his own or a religion not approved by his parent or guardian’.
“The above section has clearly and convincingly recognized the right of minors to enjoy fundamental human rights. It also placed them under the umbrella of their parents’ or guardians’ inalienable rights.
“The Abeokuta ruling is another example of the persecution of Muslims in Yorubaland. It is only in Yorubaland that Muslims must approach the courts before they can secure their Allah-given fundamental human rights. It is only in Yorubaland that Muslims suffer psychological trauma on account of the persecution and humiliation that their children go through in the schools. It is getting to boiling point and we are hoping that Yoruba Muslims will not put their backs to the wall very soon.”
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