By Dipo Olowookere
Lagos State Government has called for caution by all parties as it relates to the interpretation of the Appeal Court ruling over the use of hijab by female Muslim students in the State’s public primary and secondary schools, advising that the relative religious peace enjoyed in the State should not be sacrificed on the altar of religion.
A statement issued on Tuesday by the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem, stated that it was misleading and an attempt to misrepresent the general public that the right to wear hijab has been granted in Lagos State-owned public schools when the appeal process has not been exhausted.
The statement emphasized that while it is an indisputable fact that the Court of Appeal in its judgment of July 21, 2016 upturned the judgment of the High Court of Lagos State, which had inter alia ruled that the use of hijab is not part of the school uniform in public primary and secondary schools in Lagos State and the rights of the Applicants under Sections 38 and 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended has not been violated, the State Government had since appealed the ruling of the Appeal Court to the Supreme Court.
According to the statement, “It is not in dispute that the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division on 21st of July, 2016 upturned the judgment of the High Court of Lagos State which had inter alia ruled that the use of hijab is not part of school uniform in public primary and secondary school in Lagos State and the rights of the Applicants under Sections 38 and 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended has not been violated.”
‘’Just as the Applicants counsel exercised the constitutional right of appeal by appealing against the judgment, the state government has also appealed against the judgment of the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court,” the statement said.
The statement added that it was the position of the State Government that the issues that arose from the judgment of the Court of Appeal touches on the interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution and it is for the purposes of clarity that the Notice of Appeal together with the Motion on Notice for injunction pending appeal were served on the counsel to the applicants.
It therefore enjoined all those involved to allow the legal process to take its course on the matter and await the determination of the appeal lodged at the Supreme Court emphasizing that it was in the best interest of all parties and jurisprudence that the matter be given final interpretation by the Supreme Court.
The State Government however acknowledged the position of the Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria and other segments of the Muslim community while urging understanding and restraint on their part, pending a final determination of the matter in the Supreme Court.