The Supreme Court has overruled Lagos State on its restriction of the use of head covering (hijab) by female Muslim students of public schools in the State.
In a split decision of five to two on Friday, a seven-member panel of the Supreme Court affirmed the July 21, 2016 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Lagos, which set aside the October 17, 2014 judgment by Justice Grace Onyeabo of the High Court of Lagos State, which upheld the hijab restriction.
Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, who wrote the lead majority judgment, which was read on Friday by Justice Tijani Abubakar, dismissed the appeal filed by Lagos State against the 2016 judgment of the Court of Appeal, Lagos, on the grounds that the appeal was without merit.
Wild jubilation greeted the verdict with the Amir (President) of the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, Lagos State Area Unit, Miftahudeen Thanni, and other members of the organisation.
The court upheld that the ban violated the Muslim students’ rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, the dignity of human persons and freedom from discrimination guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution.
The Lagos State Government had banned the use of the hijab, arguing that it was not part of the approved school uniform for pupils.
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Following the ban, the students filed the suit on May 27, 2015, seeking redress and asked the court to declare the ban as a violation of their rights to freedom of thought, religion and education.