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Re: JUDGMENT DELIVERED BY THE SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA ON 17TH JUNE, 2022, LEGALISING THE WEARING OF HIJABS IN SCHOOLS.

It was reported by Akahi News on 23rd June, 2022 that Chief Malcom Omirhobo, a lawyer who doubles as a human right activist attended proceedings in the Supreme Court of Nigeria dressing like a native doctor.

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He justified his action owing to the judgment prepared by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun but read out by Justice Tijani Abubakar of the Supreme Court of Nigeria which gives Muslim girls in schools the right to wear hijab to school. The ratio decidendi of the Supreme Court is Section 38 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which guarantees the freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

The import of the Apex Court’s decision is that it is legal for a student to dress in line with his religious beliefs to school. To put it more clearly, it is makes it legal for any student in any educational institution in Nigeria (except those founded by religious bodies) whether private or public to dress in line with his/her religious beliefs to the institution even if it’s against the rules and regulations of the institution.

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Akahi News reported that Chief Malcom Omirhobo, a Legal Practioner and human right activist also said that he would tell his child to dress like a traditionalist to school. He also encouraged people in the Army and other professions to do dress according to their religious beliefs.

Is is legal for citizens of Nigeria to toe the path of Chief Malcom Omirhobo ESQ?

My answer is in the Negative on the following grounds.

First, a strict construction of the Apex court’s decision makes it obvious that that decision applies only to schools or other educational institutions.

Two, the decision does not repeal the code of conduct or work ethics that is expected to be adhered to by people working in an institution or organisation. A doctor, lawyer, soldier inter alia, cannot dress against his dress or work ethics based on this decision.

Three, It won’t also apply to Educational Institutions established by religious organisations (which is not a cult) such as a church in line with Section 38(3) Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (AS amended) which provides that:

(3) No religious community or denomination shall be prevented from
providing religious instruction for pupils of that community or
denomination in any place of education maintained wholly by that community
or denomination.

Now, based on this decision, CAN A LAW STUDENT ATTEND LECTURES DRESSING IN LINE WITH HIS RELIGIOUS BELIEFS EVEN THOUGH IT’S CONTRARY TO COUNCIL OF LEGAL EDUCATIONAL DRESS CODE FOR LAW STUDENTS ACROSS THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA?

My answer is in the AFFIRMATIVE. I mean a big YES.

The fundamental rights enforcement decision of the Supreme Court of Nigeria renders any other rules or regulation by any educational institution which is contrary to it null and void to the extent of it’s inconsistency. Section 235 CFRN 1999 (as amended) provides for the finality of the decision of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

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