A Lagos High Court in Ikeja has fixed September 26 to deliver judgment in a suit filed by the Muslim Student Association of Nigeria against the Lagos State Government over the use of Hijab by female Muslim students in the state’s primary and secondary schools.
Justice Modupe Onyeabo fixed the date after counsel to the students, Mr Gani Adetola-Kaseem (SAN) and the Lagos State Solicitor-General, Lawal Pedro (SAN) argued and adopted their written submissions.
Mr Adetola-Kaseem in his arguments in court on Friday maintained that the essence of wearing Hijab by Muslim females is to prevent them from tempting people of the opposite sex or being tempted by them and also to protect their chastity.
The lawyer also insisted that it is mandatory for all Muslims who have attained puberty to participate fully in the practice of Islam, including Islamic dressing mode, worship and fasting.
He submitted that from the Islamic point of view, womanhood is determined not by biological age or marriage but by the time a person has attained the age of puberty. This age he says varies between individual. Some females attain puberty as early as the age of nine years while others attain puberty at age 13 or more.
The lawyer therefore urged the court to grant the application because the position of the Lagos State Government violates the religious rights of the applicants and it is the duty of the court to protect them.
In his response, the counsel to the State Government, Mr Pedro, argued that the wearing of uniforms in public primary and secondary schools is for identification of students from different schools in Lagos and also to encourage a sense of unity, discipline, organisation and orderliness amongst the schools.
He also submitted that the clamour and demand for the compulsory use of Hijab on top of the school uniform by Muslim girl students in Lagos is a recent development.
Two Muslim students, of Atunrashe Junior High School, Surulere, Lagos State, Miss Asiyat Abdulkareem and Miss Maryam Oyeniyi, had filed the suit through their fathers – Alhaji Owolabi Abdulkareem and Mr. Suleiman Oyeniyi.
In the suit, they claimed that the restriction of the use of the Hijab, violates their fundamental human rights.
They also argued that banning female students from using Hijab on or outside the premises of any educational institution in Lagos State “is wrongful and unconstitutional”.
The defendants in the suit are the Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye; the Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye; and the Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture, Mr. Oyinlomo Danmole.