The Lagos State Government on Tuesday said it had gone to the Supreme Court to challenge the July 21, 2016 judgment of the Court of Appeal which reinstated the use of hijab by Muslim pupils in Lagos public primary and secondary schools.
A state counsel, Mr. Hameed Oyenuga, urged the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal to transmit to the Supreme Court an application seeking to stay the execution of the judgment pending the apex court’s decision.
“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 have yet to ascertain whether it has been entered,” Oyenuga said.
But a three-man appellate court panel, comprising Justices M. L. Garba, J. S. Ikyegh and U. Ogakwu, said the case having the taken to the Supreme Court, the only option left for the state was to withdraw the application.
Justice Garuba, who presided over the panel, said the Supreme Court was now the proper court to hear the application seeking to stay the execution of the July 21, 2016 judgment.
“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.
A five-man special appellate court panel, presided by Justice A.B. Gumel, had on July 21, 2016 overruled the October 17, 2014 judgment of Justice Modupe Onyeabo of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja, which banned the use of hijab in public primary and secondary schools in Lagos State.
While striking down Justice’s Onyeabo’s verdict, the Justice Gumel panel had held that the ban on hijab was discriminatory against Muslim pupils in the state.
The panel upheld the Muslim pupils’ contention that the ban violated their rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, dignity of human persons and freedom from discrimination guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution.
Justice Gumel also held that wearing of hijab was an Islamic injunction and an act of worship required of Muslims.
He said the use of hijab by Muslim pupils could not cause disunity, distraction and discrimination against students of other faiths as declared by the lower court judge.
February 07, 2017