The Court of Appeal in Lagos on Tuesday held that the ban on wearing of Hijab in public schools in Lagos State was a constitutional matter.
The judge, Justice Amina Augie, also held that since it was a constitutional matter it must be decided by a five-man panel of the court.
Augie noted that the appeal bordered on the rights of the appellants to wear Hijab to school in line with Quranic injunction.
Augie added that in the interest of justice, the appeal will be adjourned, to enable appellant counsel apply to the President of the Court Appeal for constitution of a full panel of the court to hear the appeal.
Augie, therefore adjourned the appeal to a date to be communicated to the parties.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Hijab is a head-piece worn by Muslim women and girls, which cover the head and face.
In his response, Counsel to the appellants, Chief Gani Adetola-Kazeem (SAN), urged the court to make the record of proceedings available to enable him write to the President of the Court of Appeal.
Justice Modupe Onyeabor of the Lagos State High Court had On Oct. 17, 2014, dismissed the suit instituted against the Lagos State Government by two 15-year-old students, challenging the ban on Hijab.
They had filed the suit under the aegis of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Lagos State Area Unit.
The Lagos State Government had banned the use of Hijab on the grounds that it was not a part of the approved school uniform.
Following the ban, the students had filed the suit on May 27, 2013, praying the court to declare the ban as a violation of their rights to freedom of thought, religion and education.
In her judgment, Onyeabor had held that the prohibition of wearing of Hijab over school uniforms within and outside the premises of public schools was not discriminatory.
According to her, the ban did not violate Sections 38 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution as claimed by the plaintiffs.
The trial judge had also noted that Section 10 of the Constitution made Nigeria a secular state and that government must maintain neutrality at all times.
Onyeabor had held that the government had a duty to preserve the secular nature of the institutions concerned.
She had noted that since public schools were being funded by the government, it was therefore competent to issue dress codes and other guidelines for its students.
According to her, the use of uniforms engenders uniformity and encourages students to pursue their mutual academic aspirations without recourse to religious or any other affiliation.
The judge had further observed that the uniformity sought by government in issuing dress codes, would be destroyed, if the prayers of the plaintiffs were granted.
Dissatisfied with the decision of the trial court, the appellant had urged the appellate court to set aside the judgment and protect their constitutional rights.