Appeal Court strikes out Lagos State’s application enforcing ban of hijab in schools

The Lagos State Government on Tuesday had its application seeking an injunction to suspend hijab use by Muslim female pupils in public schools in the state, struck out by the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal Lagos Division.

The ruling was made by a three-man panel of the court comprising Justices M. L. Garba (presiding), J. S. Ikyegh and U. Ogakwu, took the action because of a pending appeal by the state at the Supreme Court.

It agreed with the state that the apex court was the proper place for the application to be heard.

It would be recalled that on July 21, 2016, a special five-man panel of the appellate court voided the 2014 verdict of a Lagos High Court, which outlawed the wearing of hijab by the pupils.

The state, last September 16, filed an application at the Court of Appeal seeking an injunction for a stay of the judgment, pending the determination of an appeal it had filed at the Supreme Court.

At Tuesday’s proceedings, counsel for the state, Mr Hameed Oyenuga of the Directorate of Civil Litigation Department, informed the court that the injunction was applied for before the state appealed the judgment at the apex court.

He applied that the application be forwarded to the Supreme Court so that it could be heard alongside the appeal.

“We are asking that the application be forwarded or transmitted to the Supreme Court. We have forwarded our return argument to the Supreme Court, but we are yet to ascertain whether it has been entered,” Oyenuga said.

Counsel for the first, second and third respondents, Mr H. T. Fajimite did not object.

The court agreed that the Supreme Court should hear the application, but observed that for that to happen, the application had to be withdrawn or struck out at the appellate court 

“An appeal has been entered at the Supreme Court, you can’t expect us to transmit it to the Supreme Court. You have to withdraw the application. The application before us has to go. The application is hereby struck out,”
Justice Garuba held.

In a unanimous decision on July 21, a special five-man panel presided over by Justice A.S. Gumel held that it would amount to discrimination on religious ground if the pupils were disallowed to wear hijab.

The appeal was filed by two female pupils of Atunrase Junior High School in Surulere, Asiyat Kareem and Mariam Oyeniyi, under the aegis of the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Lagos State Area Unit.

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