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Hijab controversy: Court bars reps from conducting public hearing

Hijab controversy: Court bars reps from conducting public hearing
February 28
16:32 2018
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A federal high court sitting in Abuja has restrained the house of representatives from conducting a planned public hearing on the hijab controversy between the Nigerian Law School and Firdrusa Abdulsalam.

Anwuli Chikere, the presiding judge, gave the order on Wednesday in her ruling on an application seeking to stop the public hearing.

The judge ordered that the public hearing be put on hold, pending the determination of the substantive suit.

She said the plaintiffs – Coalition of lawyers for the preservation of legal practitioners’ ethics –have a right to file the application since the decision of the lawmakers would affect them.

She adjourned the matter until April 24 for hearing of the substantive suit regarding the matter.

In December 2017, Abdulsalam, a law graduate, was not called to the Nigerian bar on the grounds that she wore a hijab to the call to bar ceremony.

The matter was taken to the house of representatives and a public hearing was fixed for February 6 but it was later postponed to an unscheduled date.

The coalition then filed a suit asking the court to stop the house from conducting the hearing.

Sunday Akanni, their counsel, told the court that the lawyers had even undertaken that they would pay damages to the house in case their application was found to be frivolous.

He said they were seeking the interpretation of sections 33 to 45 of the 1999 constitution as well as that of section 88.

He said: “Our contention is very simple…it is not for the house of representatives to conduct a public hearing. Sections 88 and 89 give power to the house to conduct public hearing, but sections 33 to 45 is what we call fundamental rights.”

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