A High Court sitting in Osun State had yesterday ruled that Muslim female students in public primary and secondary schools in the state are now free to wear hijab in their schools. In the judgment delivered by Justice Jide Falola, in a case filed by the Osun State Muslim Community against the state government, held that wearing hijab was part of the fundamental rights of Muslims’ female pupils.
In 2014, the state governor, Rauf Aregbesola, had introduced a reclassification policy into the education sector approving the wearing of hijab public schools. This was not well received by the Christians who saw the legalization of hijab as a way of making Osun an Islamic state.
This led to severe arguments between both religious groups who insisted their religious practice(s)/tradition should be respected. Protests broke out in the state even as Muslims in the state dragged the state government to court.
The suit, which was instituted against the state government, also joined the state Commissioner for Education, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice as respondents. But the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), its chairman and others, voluntarily joined as respondents.
In his judgment, Justice Falola traced the history of religion and observed that religion was introduced to the case when the CAN and others joined the suit, noting that he decided to deliver the judgment after all plea to settle the matter amicably has proved futile.
And his 51-page judgment held that any act of molestation, harassment, torture and humiliation against female Muslim students using Hijab constitutes a clear infringement on their fundamental rights, as he hung his judgement on Section 38 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended).
Heavily armed policemen were reportedly deployed at the court premises as early as 7 am, at the high court yesterday in anticipation that there may be crisis after the judgment, but there was none.