By Onozure Dania
Lagos—The Court of Appeal Lagos Division yesterday dismissed an application filed by the Lagos State Government seeking an injunction to suspend Hijab use by Muslim female pupils in public schools in the state.
A three-man panel; Justices M. L. Garba, presiding, J. S. Ikyegh and U. Ogakwu, ruled that the proper place for government’s application to be heard was the Supreme Court.
On July 21, last year a special five-man panel of the appellate court voided the 2014 verdict of a Lagos High Court, which outlawed the wearing of the Hijab by the pupils.
The state, had on September 16, filed an application at the Court of Appeal seeking an injunction for a stay of the judgment, pending the determination of an appeal it had filed at the Supreme Court.
At the resumed hearing of the matter yesterday, the state counsel, Mr Hameed Oyenuga the informed the court that the injunction was applied for before the state appealed the judgment at the apex court.
He applied that the application be forwarded to the Supreme Court so that it could be heard alongside the appeal.
“We are asking that the application be forwarded or transmitted to the Supreme Court. We have forwarded our return argument to the Supreme Court, but we are yet to ascertain whether it has been entered,” Oyenuga said.
Counsel for the first, second and third respondents, Mr H. T. Fajimite did not object.
The court said that the Supreme Court should hear the application, but observed that for that to happen, the application had to be withdrawn or struck out at the appellate court.
Justice Garuba said: “An appeal has been entered at the Supreme Court, you can’t expect us to transmit it to the Supreme Court. You have to withdraw the application. The application before us has to go. The application is hereby struck out.”
Speaking after the ruling, Fajimite said: “The implication for all of us is that as at today, there is nothing restricting us from using the Hijab.”
“Before now we were conceding to the fact that once an application has been filed, for instance in terms of an application for injunction pending an appeal or stay of execution of a judgment, we are constrained or obliged to respect that action and refuse to exercise our right under the judgment that we have won.
“That application is now gone and from this moment, no such restriction, nothing is stopping any Muslim student from using Hijab for now.”