Hijab: Muslim students react as Lagos govt issues circular on Supreme Court judgement
...Urges compliance with court guidelines
The Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria has commended the Lagos State Government for issuing a circular ordering its employees to obey the Supreme Court judgement that grants the use of hijab in schools and academic institutions.
The Amir (President) of MSSN Lagos State Area Unit, Miftahudeen Thanni, in a statement on Tuesday, said though waiting for more than four months to issue the circular was worrisome, it is exciting that the government finally did the right thing.
Recall that the Supreme Court had ruled in favour of the use of hijab in all Lagos State schools on Friday, June 17, 2022.
On Monday, December 5, 2022, the Lagos State Government issued a circular ordering school administrators and principals to allow Muslim students to wear the hijab in all state-owned schools.
The circular, with reference number CIR/HOS/’22/Vol.1/068 was signed by the State Head of Service, Hakeem Muri Okunola.
The circular, which was titled, ‘Supreme Court judgement on the use of hijab in Lagos State schools’, read, “It is hereby notified for general information that the Supreme Court SC.910/2016 delivered on the 17th 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 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 the circular for immediate compliance and give it the deserved service-wide publicity.”
However, Thanni, who hailed the government, expressed reservation on the second paragraph of the circular, saying, “It’s a settled matter”.
According to him, the guidelines on the hijab to be worn are already contained in the Supreme Court judgement.
The Amir also recalled that many principals and teachers had always hidden under the initial failure of the state government to issue a circular to perpetuate their islamophobia and illegal act of harassing, discriminating and punishing hijab-wearing students.
“We hope that this berths a new beginning and an end to harassment, oppression and victimisation of Muslim students on hijab,” Thanni added.
The Muslim students’ leader warned teachers against disobeying the directive, noting that they no longer have any excuse to stop Muslim students from wearing hijab.
He said, “Though a bit delayed, this is highly commendable. We commend all the actors that made this a possibility. This shows that the Lagos State Government is law-abiding. Other states should emulate this kind of law-abiding gesture.
“However, we urge the government to ensure a thorough implementation of this circular as Muslim students have suffered a lot in the hands of many state actors.
“Although in the face of provocation, we have been law-abiding and acted responsibly, we appeal to the state government to strongly impose tough sanctions on whoever flouts the Supreme Court judgement despite that we will not also hesitate to name, shame and sue any defaulter.
“On guidelines, while we understand that the state government may be striving to ensure uniformity among others, we would love to call the attention of the state government to the Supreme Court judgement which contains some of these guidelines.
“Government should be cautious of engaging in any act that violates the Supreme Court ruling and carry Muslim organisations along in its actions. We all enjoy this peaceful Lagos and we don’t want anything that can disrupt it.”
Mallam Miftahudeen Thanni,
Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria,
Lagos State Area Unit.