Call to bar: Reps wade into Hijab saga

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House of Representatives on Tuesday waded into the denial of call to bar for a Nigerian law school graduate, Ms. Amasa Firdaus by the Nigerian judiciary, mandating its committees on justice and judiciary to investigate the matter.
The House also mandated its Committee on Power and Public Procurement to investigate alleged fraudulent award of contracts amounting to N42 billion on rural electrification schemes in some federal universities. These resolutions followed two different motions sponsored by Hon. Abubakar Danburam from Kano state and Hon. Darlington Nwokocha from Abia state. Moving his motion at the plenary, Danburam noted that Firdaus who graduated from University of Ilorin, Kwara state had attended Nigerian Law School and qualified to be called to the bar, arguing that the constitution of Nigeria guarantees certain freedoms under the fundamental human rights and wondered why the graduate was not called to bar last week on account of hijab which is her religious obligation.
“The House notes that Ms. Amasa Firdaus was a law graduate from the University of Illorin and admitted into the Nigerian Law School as a pre-requisite before a call to bar.
“Also notes that after the completion of the required programme at the Nigeria Law School, she was due to be called to bar on December 12th, 2017,” Danburam said.
Firdaus was denied a call to bar by the Nigerian Law School because she refused to take off her headscarf. The president of the Nigeria Bar Association and the Sultan of Sokoto have raised questions about the legality of the decision of the Nigerian Law School to deny the law graduate from being called to bar because of a head scarf..
The controversy has attracted international media coverage and social media across the globe.
Danburam also observed that even the United Kingdom and United States of America as well as other African countries allow the use of headscarf (hijab) by female Muslims during graduation ceremony and presentation of certificates, and gave the example of Kenya, where the Chief Justice of Kenya participated in a group photograph with two female Muslims who used headscarf during the graduation of law students. According to the law maker, the picture and other similar pictures are all over the social media to create awareness on the matter.
“Despite the use of the headscarf by the student, she had the law wig on top of it which still showed compliance with the tradition of the Nigerian Law School and decency according to her religious belief.
“The provision of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria as amended section 38 provides that every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religious belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance. This section supersedes any provision by any government agency or institution to contravene,” he argued.

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