Court grants female muslim students order to wear Veil in Osun schools

An Osogbo High Court has granted the prayers of female Muslim students to wear Hijab (veil) in all public primary and secondary schools in Osun.

The court, presided by Justice Jide Falola, in a 51-page judgment delivered on Friday, held that any act of molestation, harassment, torture and humiliation against female Muslim students using Hijab constitutes a clear infringement on their fundamental rights.

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Falola cited Section 38 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) to rest his ruling.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Osun State Muslim Community on Feb. 14, 2013, dragged the State Government to the court.

They sought an order of the court to allow female Muslim students to enjoy their fundamental rights by granting them order to use veil in public schools.

The suit, which was directly instituted against the state government, also joined the state Commissioner for Education, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice as respondents.

But the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), its chairman and others, voluntarily joined as respondents.

The applicants, in a 44-paragraph affidavit in support of their motion, applied for the enforcement of their fundamental rights pursuant to sections 38 and 42 of the constitution.

The applicants through their lead-counsel, Mr. Kazeem Odedeji, told the court that female Muslim students are being harassed by the fourth and fifth respondents, insisting that such was a clear discrimination and infringement on their fundamental rights.

Odedeji, who premised his argument on a decision of a Court of Appeal, Ilorin, between the Provost, College of Education and one Basirat Saliu, noted that female Catholic wear veil, while Mary, the mother of Jesus always appear on picture with Hijab on her head.

Odedeji also explained that his prayer was to allow female Muslim students wear Hijab in some schools where they are being denied, noting that they have been wearing it in accordance with the 2004 Directives of the state government.

In his judgment, Justice Falola traced the history of religion and observed that religion was introduced to the case when the CAN and others joined the suit, noting that he decided to deliver the judgment after all plea to settle the matter amicably has proved futile.

Premising his judgment on Section 38 of the Nigeria Constitution and Article 8 of the 2004 policy published by the state Ministry of Education, Justice Falola held that female Muslim students were not exempted from the freedom of religion, conscience and thought.

He ordered that the respondents should be restrained from disallowing the use of Islamically prescribed veil by female Muslim students, adding that the students should wear Hijab in the colour already prescribed by the first to fifth respondents.

Justice Falola submitted that since the respondents have failed to cite any relevant authority in their response, he would be bound by the decision of the Appellate court in Ilorin, which the applicants cited in their application.


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