The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal on Thursday reversed the ban on the use of hijab in the state’s public primary and secondary schools.
The appeal court upturned the October 17, 2014 judgment of a Lagos high court in Ikeja.
In a unanimous judgment, the appeal court noted that the ban was discriminatory against Muslim pupils in Lagos state.
Responding to the judgement, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) extolled the “maturity and religious tolerance” of Lagos Muslims but criticised the Osun chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for not respecting the “unfavourable judgment” on the state’s hijab crisis.
“The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) commends the ruling. It has restored hope in the judiciary as the last hope of the common man,” read a statement signed by Ishaq Akintola, a professor and director of MURIC.
“The five judges deserve more accolades. They have proven beyond any reasonable doubt that they are principled men of the bench. It is the victory of the rule of law. Truth has prevailed over falsehood.
“The fact that the judgment was unanimous and only two of the five judges are Muslims leaves a firm stamp of authority on the legality of the use of hijab not only by female Muslim students but also by all Muslim women in the country.
“MURIC therefore warns officials in public and private institutions who are in the habit of intimidating and stigmatizing Muslim women in hijab to desist forthwith.
“We laud Muslim students and Islamic organizations in Lagos State who have demonstrated patience and tolerance in the face of provocations since the unfavourable court judgment of 2013. Unlike their counterparts in the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Osun State chapter who took the law into their hands when the judgment on the hijab case was unfavourable to them, Lagos Muslims showed maturity and respect for the rule of law.
“Nigerians have important lessons to learn in the two cases. One, that litigants should remain patient when a lower court makes a pronouncement as there is opportunity to approach an appellate court.
“Two, that democracy can only thrive where we respect the rule of law. A situation whereby litigants go berserk over a court’s pronouncement can only breed anarchy.”