By Olawale Abdul-Fatah
To prevent religious crisis in Lagos, the State Government has ordered Tutor-General and Permanent Secretaries and Principals public schools to immediately permit use of Hijab, (Muslims headscarf) in their schools.
It was gathered that the circular titled Re: The Use of Hijab in Lagos State Public Schools, was outcome of the panel constituted by the State Government on the use of Hijab in State Public schools in the state.
In the circular sent to Oshodi Comprehensive Senior High School and obtained by Vanguard with reference number ED/DISTVI/CCST/HI/14/I/63, issued yesterday, was signed by O.A. Olukoya, directing schools to comply immediately.
According to the Circular, since the case of the use of Hijab in Lagos State is still pending in the Supreme court of Nigeria, status quo be maintained, to avoid contempt of the court, that is students be allowed to wear Hijabs on school uniforms but same must be short, smart, neat and in the same colour of the uniform (skirt).
“Furthermore, schools management are advised to downplay comments and disciplinary actions on the use of smart Hijabs until the final determination of the case by Supreme Court.
“No student should be discriminated against in any form on the basis of religion. All principals and teachers must be sensitized to comply accordingly. You are enjoined to adhere strictly to these recommendations.”
The approval to enforce the Appeal Court order came two years after a five-man panel presided over by Justice, A.B. Gumel, set aside the earlier judgment by Justice Grace Onyeabo of the Ikeja High Court, Lagos, banning use of hijab and declared that students especially Muslims have right to wear Hijab within and outside their school premises without being punished or victimized.
Reacting over the State Government approval for enforcement of Appeal Court judgement, Amir, Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, MSSN Lagos State, Saheed Ashafa, said that it would help to stop harassment and victimization female Muslim students wearing hijab.
By issuing the circular, Ashafa said the Lagos State Government has towed the path of honour and deserved to be praised for such.
“We extol this gesture and the resoluteness of the state government in ensuring that an avoidable strife do not find ways into the peaceful atmosphere being enjoyed in Lagos State.
“We are pleased with this development because the embarrassing way and manner that our members are being victimised, harassed, punished and denied entrance into their classrooms for wearing hijab would stop.
“We have constantly told the state government that while a case on the hijab is awaiting final verdict at the Supreme Court, no teacher has the right to punish female pupils for wearing hijab. The Appeal Court in the case clearly states that wearing hijab by students, whether within or outside the school premises was a fundamental Human Right entrenched in the constitution.
“It is important to notify you that we will not allow further lawlessness and flagrant disregard for rule of law to stay after this circular. The circular would also help to stop the abuse of rights which could have degenerated into crisis or violence that may lead to the disruption of activities in schools in our dear state.
“We commend this intervention aimed at calling teachers, principals and tutor general to order. This circular approving wearing of hijab by students on their school uniform within and outside school premises, will ensure peace and order in our schools and stability in the state’s education system.”