The Lagos State Government has called for strict adherence to the Supreme Court's decision allowing Muslim students in state-wide schools to attend class while wearing a hijab.
This was made known in a circular released by the Head of Service, Mr Hakeem Muri-Okunola on Monday which was addressed to heads of several institutions and bodies owned by the group.
According to the statement, which was addressed to both public and private organisations and individuals, the directive should be followed because it is consistent with the ruling of the highest court in the land.
The statement reads: “Supreme Court Judgement On The Use Of Hijab In Lagos State Schools: It is hereby notified for general information that the Supreme Court Judgement SC.910/2016 delivered on the 17th of June, 2022 on the use of Hijab as it affects Pupils/Students in Lagos State Schools has declared that Students should be allowed to wear the Hijab if desired.
“A Comprehensive Guideline on the use of Hijab in Schools will be issued by the State Government in due course, however, you are to note that the judgement is binding on all schools in the State.
“As a law-abiding administration, all Accounting Officers are to note the contents of this Circular for immediate compliance and give it the deserved Service-wide publicity.”
Meanwhile, The Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC), Nigeria, responded to this development by describing it as a significant victory in the effort to rid Lagos of all forms of discrimination.
The organisation also urged the state government to compensate Muslim students abused for wearing hijab in schools in a statement released by Fatimah Sanni, MPAC Senior Admin Officer.
The statement reads: The Lagos State Government had fought tooth and nail to ensure that hijab-wearing female students in its public secondary schools were excluded from public-funded education in Lagos State or forced to make a choice between observing a constitutionally protected right to freedom of religious expression and accessing public education. The government was defeated in court all the way to the Supreme Court and shown to be a serial violator of a constitutional guarantee.
“Congratulations to the Muslim students who bore the brunt of the discriminatory policy for so long, and many Muslim organizations that created a common front, and stood shoulder-to-shoulder for many years, to end the abuse and discrimination.
“This is a huge relief to parents and students and we hope the circular will be seen by all stakeholders, particularly those responsible for implementing it, as a necessary policy statement of the State Government.
“We hope the state government will ensure that resources are allocated to roll back the impacts of long years of discrimination and abuses against hijab in the schools and bring about a change of heart and mind amongst those who had brutally (or violently) enforced the discriminatory policy. It is time to work together and make our educational institutions truly inclusive and free of bigotry.”