MSSN, MURIC, MAN others react
Reps order investigation
The apex body of Muslims, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA and other Muslim groups have vowed to defend Miss Firdaus Amasa over what they described as victmisation, dehumanisation and gross injustice, just as they also demanded for apology to the young Muslim lawyer adding that the injustice done to her be reversed immediately.
The Body of Benchers shut the gate out on Amasa Firdaus during the call-to-Bar ceremony for refusing to remove her hijab last week. The issue has generated controversy, with rights groups and lawyers commenting on the development.
The Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, MSSN, Lagos State Area Unit led by Dr. Saheed Ashafa in a press conference held on Wednesday in Lagos said the incidence was a bad development urging immediate apology to the embarrassed Muslim law graduate, Amasa Firdaus, and reinstate her forthwith.
Earlier, NSCIA in a statement signed by the Deputy General Secretary Prof Salisu Shehu vowed to call out a nationwide strike if the matter was not reversed. He accused the Nigerian Law School of lawlessness and Islamophobia.
“There is no doubt that Abdulsalam Firdaos Amosa has been victimised, humiliated and traumatised by the Nigerian Law School, the Body of Benchers and the Council for Legal Education on account of her faith,” the statement said.
“She has been denied of rightfully joining her professional colleagues just because of her religion. She has been exposed to ridicule and opprobrium by standing for her religious rights. It begs the question that she is not the only Muslim lady among those concerned as no one will stand for her when she appears before her Creator to defend the correctness and otherwise of her actions. We reiterate that she has not violated any law.
“The NSCIA demands that the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Justice, call the Council for Legal Education and the Nigerian Law School to order so that they will not stoke religious crisis in the country.
“Our Council patiently waits for what the Ministry will do as it puts other options on the table including litigation and nation-wide protests.
Other Muslim groups include, The Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria, MMPN; Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria, MULAN; Federation of Muslim Women Association in Nigeria, FOMWAN; Muslim Association of Nigeria, MAN; The Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC; Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, MSSN; Abuja Muslim Forum, AMF.
Others are The Criterion, Muslim Ummah of South West of Nigeria, MUSWEN; Bodija Muslim Youth Forum, BOMYOF among others.
They should apologise to her —MSSN
Also addressing journalists on the matter, the Amir (President) of MSSN, Dr. Saheed Ashafa said: “This wave of harassment and denial has found its way to the law school where a Muslim law graduate was denied access to the call to bar ceremony because she tucked her hijab under her wig. This is the highest form of segregation, misuse of power, disregard for the constitution and lawlessness by those expected to be promoting obedience to the law.
“This is a bad development and it is better they urgently apologise to the embarrassed Muslim law graduate, and reinstate her right. She should be celebrated and specially compensated for promoting and fighting for justice, which are the ideals that the law school itself impart.
“We appreciate organisations and personalities who deemed it fit to condemn the infringement on Firdaus’s right and we assure her of our support. We stand with Firdaus. She is a heroine and a justice fighter. She has shown the difference between certification and knowledge. She has fought what many Senior Advocates have refused to fight for.
“We share the belief that it is totally unfair and unworthy to sacrifice human right on the altar of public policy, which is not even in existence. It is not healthy for our democracy. We also wish to remind all parties involved that wearing of hijab is not a mere standard for Muslim females but a mandatory prescription from their creator. Female Muslim students should be allowed to put on the hijab.
“The current judgment that students can put on hijab in Lagos State public schools remains valid. As we speak, the right to wear hijab has been constitutionally and legally granted in-line with our Creator’s injunction,” Ashafa stated.
In a statement, the National President of MMPN, Abdur-Rahman Balogun said that the refusal by the authorities of the Nigerian Law School to call Firdaus Amasa to the Nigerian Bar was a gross violation of her right to freedom of religion as provided by Section 38 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended.
“It is our belief that female lawyers in Nigeria, like their counterparts in other advanced countries, should be allowed to dress properly in accordance with their belief,” Balogun said.
Reinstate her immediately —MURIC
The Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, recently called for an immediate ‘call to bar’ exercise to be organised for Amasa.
At a press conference organised by MURIC held in Iba-Estate, Lagos, the organisation also called for a judicial inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the molestation of Muslim students who were allegedly forced to remove their hijab on that fateful day but could not assert their rights.
Among other requests made on the issue were a review of the code of dressing in the Nigerian Law Schools as it affects the manifestation of religious beliefs; the intervention of the Nigerian National Assembly in the matter at hand; an investigation by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) into allegations of religious stigimitization in the Nigerian Law School as well as a general reform of the Nigerian Law School.
Making reference to what obtains in Kenya, the group said the system is “liberal and accommodating with Muslims,” even though Kenya, like Nigeria, is a former British colony.
“We demand full integration and full recognition as bona fide citizens of Nigeria, not second or third class citizens. We are the aggrieved party. The British most brutally and most unjustly took all we had from us, giving us nothing in return and offering no relief. It has continued to give us a feeling of rejection, marginalisation, denial of the dividends of democracy and lack of a sense of belonging. The time for redress is now.
We are all ready to defend her —MAN
The Muslim Association of Nigeria, MAN also expressed its anger on the issue stating that authorities should immediately apologise to Amasa. According to the Vice President 1 of the group, Dr Dhikirullah Yagboyaju, who spoke to Vanguard during the group’s new National Executive NEC, officers’ inaugural meeting held at Ijebu-Igbo recently, the controversy should have been avoided since it was the fundamental right of the individual to wear hijab.
The refusal of Firdaus Amasa not to remove her Hijab is within her rights as a citizen of Nigeria which is guaranteed by the constitution and her denial to be called to Bar along with her colleagues on this basis is an infringement on her right.
Yagboyaju who is a Professor of Political Science, University of Ibadan said: “She passed the exams and fulfilled other requirements, so, denying her on the filmy excuse of wearing hijab is an infringement on her right guaranteed by the constitution. So, this controversy needed not to have arisen. They should apologise to her and immediately call her to the Bar,” Dr Yagboyaju stated.
The National President of the association, Alhaji Tajudeen Ojikutu in the same vein implored the authorities to do the needful by ensuring that Amasa is enrolled in to the Bar with her Hijab without any form of harassment or intimidation, adding that the association was ready to join hands with other Muslim organizations in ensuring that justice is served on the matter.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday mandated a joint committee to investigate the controversy surrounding why a graduate of law was barred from the call-to-bar ceremony for insisting on wearing the hijab. In a motion of urgent public importance raised by Danburan Nuhu (Kano–APC), he alleged that the rights of Ms. Amasa had been violated.
The investigation was referred to committees on justice and federal judiciary. The committee on justice is chaired by Razak Atunwa (Kwara – APC) while judiciary is chaired by Aminu Shagari (Sokoto – APC)
The committee is expected to submit its report in two weeks.and come up with appropriate recommendations to guide the House to reach a decision on the matter.