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11-year-old girl loses case on use of hijab in public schools

An Ogun State High Court sitting in Abeokuta has struck out a case on the use of hijab in the state public schools filed by an 11-year-old girl, Aishat Abdul-Aleem.

Aishat was nine years old when in December 2018, she dragged the Principal of Gateway Secondary school, one Mrs Kushimo, and the State Government to court for not allowing her to use hijab in the school premises.

Her lead counsel, Semiu Akinbami had prayed the court to declare the use of hijab in the state public schools as a fundamental human right.

Akinbami equally prayed the court to declare that preventing female students from using the hijab is discriminatory and demanded the sum of N1million as damages.

However, delivering the judgment in the suit on Thursday, Justice Bamgbose Alabi held that “the use of hijab is considered a fundamental human right only for adults.”

Justice Alabi rejected the prayers of the girl, declaring that the Islamic doctrines make the use of hijab compulsory only for adults.

“Except the applicant can show where in the glorious Quran, the hijab is made compulsory for minors, she cannot claim the benefit of the above-quoted verse or claim that the wearing of hijab is her fundamental right in any way,” the court held.

Earlier, the counsel for the applicant, argued that the use of hijab was mandatory on every Muslim female irrespective of her age.

However, in her written address, the State Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Justice, Mrs Yetunde Oresanya argued that, permitting Aisha to use hijab in the school premises equated to imposing the Islamic mode of dressing on the school authorities.

Oresanya maintained that public schools in the state were not established on a religious basis.

The insistence of the use of hijab by Aishat and her parents in public school amounts to imposing their religious leanings as regards the mode of dressing, she argued.

“It is worthy of note that both St. Peters College, Olomore, Abeokuta and Gateway Secondary School, Ita-Iyalode, Abeokuta are not established and maintained by any religious community or denomination but by the Ogun State government,” she submitted.

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