Reps probe law school over Firdaus’ rights

Members of the House of Representatives at a plenary. PHOTO: TWITTER/DOGARA

The House of Representatives is probing into the decision by the Nigerian Law School denying Amasa Firdaus who insisted on adorning the hijab, alongside the wig and gown, a call to the Bar.

This followed the adoption of a motion under matters of urgent public importance sponsored by Abubakar Danburam during plenary session of the House with Speaker Yakubu Dogara presiding.

Consequently, the House mandated its committees on Justice and Judiciary to probe into the issue and make appropriate recommendation within two weeks.

Danburam (Kano, APC), who wants the lower legislative chamber to prevail on the Nigeria Law School to reverse the decision taken on December 13, 2017, argued that Firdaus’ rights as enshrined in Section 38 of the 1999 Constitution had been breached.

He stated that the constitutional provision, which among others entails freedom of thought, conscience and religion, supersedes any provision by any government agency or institution as in the case of the Nigeria Law School.

He further argued that the constitutional provision was further reinforced by Article 8 of the African Charter on Human and peoples rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) LFN, 2004.

The lawmaker thereby expressed surprise that the Nigerian Law School opted to violate the fundamental human rights of Firdaus, a law graduate of the University of Ilorin, despite the aforementioned provisions of the law.

Meanwhile, a group, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has urged human rights groups in the country to support the on-going call for Nigeria Law School to rescind its decision and allow Firdaus to be called to Bar.

Director of MURIC, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, who stated this during a press conference, also called on Nigerians to stand for justice regardless of ethnic or religious background.

Akintola, who described the action of the school as deplorable and preposterous, said: “This hijab saga must be seen beyond religion. It is about human rights. A helpless lady has stood her ground to protect her dignity and for this bold action, she has been denied her right to be called to Bar. This is what she has toiled for all her life. Her university found her worthy in learning and in character only for the Law School to adopt a yardstick unknown to law to deny her call to Bar. It is, therefore, a battle between convention and constitutionalism. The latter cannot win by any standard. Not when men of conscience and principles still exist in this country. If it is tradition, it must first bow to the course of law.”

The Lagos State University don wondered why it is so difficult for agency of government to accommodate Muslim women’s willingness to follow Allah’s injunction whereas Western countries like Britain, Canada and the United States (U.S.) have designed uniforms with hijab for their female Muslim police, soldiers, students but Nigeria has failed to borrow a leaf from those advanced countries.

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