The House of Representatives has ordered an investigation of the denial of a female Muslim law graduate from attending the Nigerian Law School call to bar ceremony for refusing to take off her headscarf (hijab).
House Committees on Justice and Judiciary was given two weeks to carry out the investigation into the circumstances that led to the incident.
The House said its investigative intervention was with a view to make appropriate recommendation which may include the ultimate recognition of and compliance with the rule of law above any tradition or practice.
This followed the adoption of a motion of urgent national importance by Abubakar Damburam (APC, Jigawa), who noted that after the completion of the required program at the Nigeria law school, Amasa Firdaus was due to be called to bar on Tuesday, 12th December, 2017 but denied for refusing to take off her headscarf.
“The President of the Nigeria Bar Association and the Sultan of Sokoto have raised questions about the legality of the decision of the Nigeria Law School to deny the law graduate from the call to bar
“The controversy has attracted international media coverage such as Aljazeera and on the social media across the globe because the United Kingdom and United States of American as well as other African countries allow the use of headscarf (hijab) by female Muslims during graduation ceremony and presentation of certificates.
“In Kenya for example, the Chief Justice of Kenya participated in a group photograph of two female Muslims who used headscarf during the graduation of law graduates. The picture and other similar pictures are all over the social media to create awareness on the matter.
“It should be noted that despite the use of the headscarf by the student, she had the law wig on top of the headscarf which still showed compliance with the tradition of the Nigeria Law School and decency according to her religious belief.
“The 1999 constitution of Nigeria as amended section 38 provides that every person shall be entitle to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion of belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
“This section supersedes any provision by any government agency or institution to contravene this section 38 of the constitution.
“Article 8 of African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement (Act (Cap A9) LFN, 2004, provides support to the section 38 of the Nigerian Constitution as amended reads freedom of conscience, the profession and free practice of religion shall be guaranteed. No one may subject to law and order, be subjected to measure restricting the exercise of these freedoms. Yet the Nigeria Law School which is responsible to train law graduates flouts these provision.
“It becomes worrisome that, given the aforementioned provisions of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, it can be deduced that the Fundamental Human Right of the graduate of Nigerian Law School has been violated.”
The motion was unanimously adopted after a voice vote.
The joint Committee was given two weeks to carry out the investigation and report back to the House for further legislative action.