The Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN) has accused the Lagos State Government headed by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of pursuing a Christianisation agenda in the state in not obeying the Court of Appeal judgment permitting the use of hijab in schools.
In a press statement jointly signed by its President in the B-Zone, Qasim Oladeji and two other senior officials, it challenged the government to abide by the “enforcement of the fundamental rights of Muslim female students in Lagos public schools.”
EduCeleb.com recalls that the Muslim students had been on a running battle with the state government since 2012 when a school principal beat up a female Muslim student, Asiyat Abdulkareem for using the hijab, an act which the MSSN described as fanaticism.
A Lagos High Court had in October 2012 ruled in favour of the state government before the Court of Appeal judgement in July 2016 ruled otherwise. The MSSN alleged that the inability of the government to fully enforce judgement since then was based on pressures from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
It also took a swipe at the state’s Commissioner for Home Affairs, Abdullateef Abdulhakeem whom it said made himself willing “to serve as (a) spokesperson of the government on the conspiracy against the use of hijab.”
Dr Abdulhakeem who is a versatile lawyer and Muslim was on Television Continental (TVC) on Wednesday to clear the air on a number of religion-related matters in Lagos State. His ministry particularly handles such matters.
While the programme monitored by EduCeleb.com aired, Abdulhakeem had said that hijab usage in schools remained banned until the Supreme Court judgement is made on it.
The apex Muslim group faulted this position since there was no stay of execution granted by the court or the Supreme Court, where the judgement is being appealed. It upholds that the appellate court judgement should be enforced while calling on the authorities to ensure the implementation of the court ruling enforcing the right to use the hijab in schools just as was done in other parts of the country.
Read the full statement below.
THIS BRAZEN LAWLESSNESS BY AKINWUMI AMBODE-LED LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT MUST STOP
It would be recalled that sometime in 2012, this nation woke to an absurd when a christian school principal took his religious fanaticism too far and gave over seventy strokes of cane to an innocent school girl, a female Muslim student, for daring to adorn herself with hijab on her school uniform in accordance with the dictates of her religion and in line with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. If the victim had been a Christian and the oppressor, a Muslim, the hell would have been let loose with usual hate speech and accusation of Islamisation agenda. Muslims would not do that.
However, all attempts to make the then Lagos State government, headed by Babatunde Fashola, to see reasons why the fundamental rights of Muslim students in Lagos educational institutions needed to be respected proved futile; and wise counsel fell in their deaf ears. The victims then, in conjunction the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, took a legal action and filed application for enforcement of the fundamental rights of Muslim female students in Lagos public schools.
It needs to be stated that we had a brief setback due to unfavorable judgement of Onyeabo J of the Lagos High Court but the Muslim students remained calm and pursued their appeal before the Court of Appeal.
It is of interest to note that at the same time the appeal was been pursued, a similar case was being heard before Hon Justice Jide Falola of Osun State High Court filed by the MSSN in conjunction with Osun State Muslim Community to enforce the fundamental right of female Muslim students in Osun State public schools to the use of hijab.
It was gladdening when both the Osun State High Court and Court of Appeal, Lagos division with their full panel of five justices of that court in their separate judgements on 3rd day of June, 2016 and 21st of July, 2016 gave judgments in favour of the use of hijab in schools and the Court of Appeal upheld our appeal and dismissed the decision of Hon Justice Onyeabo as one delivered in error.
Though the Lagos state government succumbed to the pressure of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and appealed to the supreme court. No stay of execution of the judgment was granted by either the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court. It is an elementary position of the law that *an appeal does not operate as a stay and successful litigants must be allowed to reap the fruit of their labour.
It is quite surprising and sad that Lagos State government can chose the path of lawlessness and allow itself to be blindfolded by religious sentiment and be influenced by Christian Association of Nigeria to go against the unanimous decision of the Court of Appeal on the use of hijab.
The peak of the Christianisation agenda by Lagos government was the use of willing Muslim in the cabinet to serve as spokesperson of the government on the conspiracy against the use of hijab when the commissioner for home affairs went to the press on 1st of August, 2018, threw caution into the wind and proclaimed that hijab ban remains in Lagos until the Supreme Court decides. We wonder what has becomes of the supposed knowledge of law of Hon AbdulHakeem. However, who do not know that to many people in politics, political interest is a religion and takes precedence before any other thing?
Against the above background, the MSSN B-Zone hereby condemns in the strongest term the attempt by the Lagos State government to continue in its lawless denial of the female Muslims rights to the use of hijab in education institutions despite the decision of the Court of Appeal.
We call on well-meaning Nigerians, the civil society organisations and all lovers of peace to call Lagos State governor and his co-conspirators to order before it is too late.
MSSN B-Zone has resolved and determined more than ever before to fight this brazen lawlessness and insensitivity of the highest order with every lawful means at our disposal.
Based upon the above, we have called on our members in public schools in Lagos to wear their hijab on their school uniforms from the beginning of next session in line with the Court of Appeal decision; and we shall not tolerate anybody, no matter his/her status, who may want to stand in their ways in doing so.
Enough is enough!
Barr Qaasim Odedeji
Amir, MSSN B-Zone
Alh Abdul Jalil Abdur Rasaq
Eng. Bashir Momoh
Public Relations Officer