Muslim groups in Nigeria have condemned in strong terms the denial of Firdaus Amasa from being called to the Bar due to her adorning Hijab. They described the action as unconstitutional, a violation of her fundamental human rights and a slap on the Muslim community.
The groups are Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria, MMPN; Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria, MULAN; Federation of Muslim Women Association in Nigeria, FOMWAN; Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, MSSN; Abuja Muslim Forum, AMF; and Obafemi Awolowo University Muslim Graduates Association, UNIFEMGA.
Others were Criterion, Muslim Consultative Forum, MCF; Muslim Ummah of South West of Nigeria, MUSWEN; Bodija Muslim Youth Forum, BOMYOF; Muslim Community of Oyo State, MUSCOYS; as well as some Muslim and non-Muslim individuals.
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.
“We have taken our time to study, listen and hear all shades of opinion on this matter and we are of the opinion that despite Firdaus compromise of adorning a harmless and simple Hijab, her refusal to be called to the Bar is an infringement on her fundamental human right.”
“One is not sure of what is the Nigerian Law School and the Council of Legal Education are afraid of. The world is moving away from that rigid thinking and leaving Nigeria behind as wig on hijab are allowed in countries like US, UK and Kenya to mention just a few.
“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,” Mr. Balogun said.
Mr. Balogun said that though the call to the Bar has ended for this year and Ms. Firdaus has sacrificed herself, MMPN is hereby calling on all the affected bodies to do the needful by ensuring that she was enrolled in the next call to the Bar with her Hijab without any form of harassment or intimidation.
Speaking in the same vein, Jameel Muhammad, National President of MSSN, described the restriction on the use of hijab as “Islamophobia” and vowed that the group will champion the cause of Ms. Amasa.
“My first point is that we are Nigerian citizens and we are entitled to our fundamental human rights which include freedom to religion and worship,
“If my religion demands something from me and I am not contravening any law of a country, I see no reason why they should trample upon fundamental, God given and constitutional right given to me by my country,” Mr. Muhammad queried.
The Ameer of Abuja Muslim Forum, Luqman Ahmad, in a statement urged all stakeholders to abide by the direction given by national executive of MULAN as it has opened consultations with the top echelon of the legal profession in Nigeria.
The National Amirah of the Federation of Muslim Women’s Associations in Nigeria, FOMWAN, Halima Jibril, said the Muslim Ummah in the country will ensure her studies of the law profession shall not be in vain.
In emotion laden message, the FOMWAN Amirah said the incidence calls the Muslim Ummah to action, to seek redress while at the same time ensuring adherence to the rule of law.
Ms. Jibril, who met with the affected Ms. Amasa in company of the leadership of Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria, MULAN, said injustice done to one, is injustice done to all.
She, however, appealed to the body of Benchers to re-appraise this case with a view to an equitable settlement that gives the ordinary Nigerian confidence that their right to practice their chosen religion will be protected by those expected to uphold these rights.
Other Muslim groups also described the barring of Ms. Amasa from the call to the Nigerian Bar as an infringement on her fundamental right and threatened to challenge it in a law court if the injustice is not redressed during the next call to the Bar.
It will be recalled that Ms. Amasa, a law graduate from the University of Ilorin, was denied entry into the International Conference Centre, Abuja, venue of the call to Bar on Wednesday December 13 because of her refusal to remove her Hijab.