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Hijab: Lagos seeks caution from all parties

LAGOS State government has called for caution by all parties as it relates to the interpretation of the Appeal Court ruling over the use of hijab by female Muslim students in the state’s public primary and secondary schools.

The State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem, made the appeal on Tuesday in a statement even as also counselled that the relative religious peace enjoyed in the state should not be sacrificed on the altar of religion.

Kazeem said it was misleading and an attempt to misrepresent the general public that the right to wear hijab had been granted in Lagos State-owned public schools when the appeal process had not been exhausted.

The State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice emphasised that, while it was an indisputable fact that the Court of Appeal in its judgment of July 21, 2016 upturned the judgment of the High Court of Lagos State, which had inter alia ruled that the use of hijab was not part of the school uniform in public primary and secondary schools in Lagos State and the rights of the applicants under Sections 38 and 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended had not been violated, the state government had since appealed the ruling of the Appeal Court to the Supreme Court.

“It is not in dispute that the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division on July 21, 2016, upturned the judgment of the High Court of Lagos State, which had inter alia ruled that the use of hijab is not part of school uniform in public primary and secondary school in Lagos State and the rights of the applicants under Sections 38 and 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended has not been violated.

“Just as the applicants counsel exercised the constitutional right of appeal by appealing against the judgment, the state government has also appealed against the judgment of the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court,” he said.

He added that it was the position of the state government that the issues that arose from the judgment of the Court of Appeal touches on the interpretation of the provisions of the constitution and it was for the purposes of clarity that the notice of appeal together with the motion on notice for injunction pending appeal were served on the counsel to the applicants.

He, therefore, enjoined all those involved to allow the legal process to take its course on the matter and await the determination of the appeal lodged at the Supreme Court emphasising that it was in the best interest of all parties and jurisprudence that the matter be given final interpretation by the Supreme Court.

Kazeem, while saying that the state government acknowledged the position of the Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria and other segments of the Muslim community, however, called for understanding and restraint on their part, pending a final determination of the matter in the Supreme Court.