It is with a heavy heart that I am penning this piece after getting abreast of the sad tale of a qualified aspirant of the Bar who was unable to be called to the Nigerian Bar due to her adherence to religious tenets stricto censo.

Let me posit here, perhaps for posterity reasons that constitutionalism is ‘alien’ to our practices in Nigeria. Hypocrisy has replaced that sacred part of our system. One of the most constant
headaches that confronts the masses is the gross violation of their fundamental rights as enshrined in Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution(as amended).

From the position of the law, it is illegal and unconstitutional to deny anybody any privileges or being discriminative on the basis of one’s religion or belief. See Section 38 of the 1999 C.F.R.N (as

Hence to discriminate a fellow of her privileges due to the open-secret that she was on her hijab is unconstitutional. As a matter of fact, hijab is a fundamental and an integral part in the dressing mode of the female Muslims. This is in pursuance to the Glorious Quranic injunction in Chapter 24 Verse 30-31 which states:

‘’….Enjoin believing women to COVER THEIR GAZE and guard their modesty ;that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what(must ordinarily) appear thereof ;that THEY SHOULD DRAW THEIR VEILS OVER THEIR BOSSOMS except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s father, their sons, their husband’s sons, their brothers or their brother’s sons or their sister’s sons or other Women or the slaves whom their right hands possess….’’(emphasis mine)

It is therefore evident from the above Quranic  Injunction that Muslim females are bound to follow this salient provisions. One cannot feign ignorance of the sacred provisions in Section 38 of
the 1999 C.F.R.N (as amended). It is unequivocally stated in Subsection 1 of this section that:

‘’Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience
and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and
freedom(either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion in worship, teaching, PRACTICE and OBSERVANCE .’’ (emphasis mine).

On whether the disqualified aspirant of the Bar has breached any law by wearing her hijab to the venue of the call-to-Bar ceremonies. I make bold to posit, without any shred of doubt that if there is any law preventing her from wearing her hijab anywhere, such a law is null and void. See Section 1(3) of the C.F.R.N (as amended). Accordingly, it is unequivocally stated in Section 1(1) of the C.F.R.N (as amended) that:

‘’This constitution is supreme and its provisions shall have binding
force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.’’

Hence, any law that prevents female Muslims from wearing their hijabs anywhere is not in consonance with the grundnorm, and such should be rendered ultra vires.

The unjust action taken in the case of Abdulsalam Firdaus Amasa, the lady denied of being called to Bar is inconsistent with the decision in the case of PDP V. CPC(2011) 17 NWLR (pt. 1277) 485 at 511. 
In this case, it was held that: ‘’ The Constitution of Nigeria is the grundnorm, otherwise known as the basic norm from which all the other laws of the society derive their validity. Each legal norm of the society derives its validity from basic norm. Any other law that is in conflict with the provision of the constitution must give way or abate.”

Therefore, the fact that the 1999 C.F.R.N (as amended) is the grundnorm is settled. Therefore, any law that mitigates the provisions of this constitution must be rendered null and void.

My Lords have held in the Court of Appeal Division in the unreported case of THE PROVOST, KWARA STATE COLLEGE OF EDUCATION, ILORIN & 2 ORS. V. BASHIRAT SALIU & 2 ORS. Appeal No. CA/IL/49/2016, delivered on the 18th day of June, 2009, per Hussein Mukhtar, JCA, held at page 15-16 of the lead judgment goes thus: ‘’The foregoing verses of the Glorious Qu’ran and Hadiths have left no room for doubt on the Islamic Injunction on women’s mode of dress, which is clearly inconformity withy not only the Respondent’s veiled dress but also the controversial article J of the 3rd Applicants’ dress code. The use of veil by the respondents, therefore qualifies as a fundamental right under Section38(1) of the Constitution.’’

The Court of Appeal further held per Massoud AbdulRahman Oredola, JCA at page 2 of the concurrent judgement: ‘’The right of the Respondents to wear their Hijab, veil within the School campus and INDEED ANYWHERE else is adequately protected under
our laws. Human rights recognizes and protects religious rights. Section 38 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guaranteed freedom of religion to all and sundry. Thus things that lawfully constitute OPEN MANIFESTATION, PROPAGATION, WORSHIP, TEACHING,PRACTICE, AND OBSERVANCE of the said religion are equally and by extension similarly guaranteed and protected by the Constitution. Indeed the Hijab, Niqab or Burqa, being part and parcel of Islamic code of dressing and by whatever standard a dignified or vividly decent one cannot be takien away by another law other than the

In the vein of the above, Justice Falola of the Osun State High Court restated the law as pronounced in the Court of Appeal decisions above while delivering judgment in the case of SHEIKH OYINWOLA & ORS, SUIT NO. HOS/M.17/2013 delivered on the 3rd of June, 2016.

Conclusively, in the light of the above expostulations, the denial of
Abdulsalam Firdaus Amasa to be called to the Nigerian Bar is an
affront on her rights and is  unjust, therefore it should be wholly condemned. In the spirit of the rule of law and constitutionalism, I humbly posit that she should be restated; hence the threat to national unity will be inevitable.

'Yinka Oyesomi is an undergraduate of law

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