Hijab: Human Rights Lawyer Drags IGP To Court

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A Lagos-based human rights lawyer, Chief Malcom Emokiniovo Omirohobo, has dragged the Inspector General of the Nigerian Police, IGP, before a Federal high court in Lagos, south west Nigeria over the approval of using Hijab scarf by Police women under their caps.

Joined as co-defendants are the Government of Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation.

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In a 60 paragraphs affidavit in support of the originating summons sworn to by Chief Malcom Omirhobo, he averred that as a Nigerian it is his civic obligation and responsibility to defend the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at all times.

He said that as a citizen, he owes his allegiance to Nigeria and its country’s Constitution; that he is a stake holder in the Nigerian project and a co-owner of the Nigerian commonwealth; pays all taxes and other levies imposed on Nigerian citizens by the Attorney General of the Federation.

Omirhobo said he is bringing this public interest case for the interest of the Nigerian public especially for the poor, weak, illiterates, uninformed, defenseless and vulnerable ones therein.

He deposed:

  • The Inspector General of Nigerian Police is the Head of the Nigerian Police Force whose responsibility is to maintain law and order in Nigeria.
  • The Nigerian Police force is a creation of the Nigerian Constitution and funded with the Nigerian Tax Payers money and the common wealth of the Nigerian citizens to serve and protect the interest of all Nigerians of different tribes, religions, languages and cultures.
  • The Nigerian police is a public institution and a national agency portraying the image of Nigeria.
  • The Nigerian police is a part of or an agency of the Nigerian executive arm of government for the enforcement of law and maintenance of law and order.
  • The Inspector General of Police being the head of the Nigerian police is subject to judicial review of this Honourable Court.
  • The Federal Republic of Nigeria is both a multi-ethnic and religious State inhabited by over 200 million Citizens of over 500 ethnic groups who speak over 400 different languages and identified with diverse cultures. Apart from Islam and Christianity being the dominant religions in Nigeria, Nigerians practice other religions such as indigenous religion, African Traditionalists, Buddhism, Judaism, Daoism, Baha’i, Confucianism, Druze, Gnosticism, Jainism, Rastafarianism, Shinto, Skihism, Zoroastrianism, Eckist, Armocs, Grail Message, etc. There are also Atheists in Nigeria.
  • Nigeria became an independent nation in 1960 and at the point of her independence its founding fathers agreed that the country will be a secular country.
  • By virtue of the Nigerian 1999 constitution (As Amended), Nigeria is a secular State without any officially recognized religion. The Nigerian police comprises of Nigerian Citizens of different religious beliefs. Nigerian police do not have any official religion, as the Nigerian police is a public institution and not a private organisation.
  • That the equipping, maintaining and funding of the Nigerian police for effectiveness in performing her statutory and constitutional responsibilities is covered by the Nigerian 1999 Constitution.

However, he said:

  • The Inspector General of the Nigerian Police with the tacit support of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation approved new dress code for female Muslim personnel which permits them to wear stud earrings and Hijab headscarf under their berets or peak caps as the case may be while in uniform.
  • The new dress code was unveiled at the Inspector General of the Nigerian Police meeting with Strategic Police Managers on 3rd of March,2022.
  • The Inspector General of the Nigerian Police has ordered the immediate distribution of uniforms, kits and other accoutrements to its Muslim female officers across the country. The defendants are producing or procuring Hijab with public funds/tax player’s money.
  • Hijab is a traditional scarf worn by Muslim women to cover the hair and neck and sometimes the face. Hijab is a dress code for Moslem women Worldwide and is associated with Islam and is also synonymous with Islam.
  • Hijab is an Islamic concept of modesty privacy and has no bearing with the performance of our Police Muslim women in the discharge of their statutory duties and responsibilities.
  • The Nigerian Police Personal as ambassadors of Nigeria goes on international engagements such as peace keeping mission all over the world.
  • The wearing of Hijab by the Nigerian Police, gives the world impression that Nigeria is an Islamic country.
  • That by the Nigerian constitution the Attorney General of the Federation or any State Government and by extension any of Its agencies or States in Nigeria shall not adopt any religion as State religion
  • By virtue of section 10 of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution Nigeria is a secular state. Nigeria is not an Islamic State.
  • By the Nigerian Constitution no Nigerian citizen of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinions shall be discriminated upon.
  • The approved new dress code of allowing Muslim female Nigeria police officers to use Hijab as part of their official uniform is discriminatory to other Nigerian police female Police officers of other religious faiths and beliefs
  • That the use of hijab is a breach of Section 10 and 42(1)(a)(b) of the Nigerian 1999 constitution (As Amended).
  • That the religion of police officers is a private and personal matter to them and not of public concern.
  • By virtue of Section 10 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Defendants and the Nigerian police are to be neutral in religious matters.

The 1999 constitution of Nigeria is the supreme law of Nigeria and has binding effect on all the Defendants and members of the Nigerian police force.

Omirhobo deposed that this action is for:

  • Court to interpret Sections 1 (1), 10, 42(1)(a)(b) and 214 of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution (As Amended) and give judicial pronouncement and/or decision on the propriety of the Defendants’ approving, producing, issuing and distributing Hijab to female Muslim police officers as part of their official dress code.
  • Unless the Defendants are restrained by this Honourable Court, they will continue to violate the constitution of Nigeria and the status of Nigeria as a secular State will continue to be under played and undermine. In no distant time the Army, Navy , Air Force and other para military organizations like the Customs , Correctional Center, Immigration, Civil Defence, Road Safety Corps will join and in the use of Hijab for their Muslim female officers as dress code and thereby polarizing our entire security public officers on religious line .
  • The Honourable Court has the jurisdiction to entertain public interest litigation for the benefit of the Nigerian Public, the Defendants will not be prejudiced if this application is granted and it will be in the overall interest of justice that this application is granted

Consequently, Chief Malcom Omirhobo is seeking the following reliefs from the court:

  • A  declaration of the court  that by the true interpretation and/or construction of Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended) it is improper, illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional for the IGP with the tacit support of the  Federal Government and the Attorney General of the Federation to use public funds to approve, produce and/or procure, issue and distribute to Nigerian female police officers throughout Nigeria Hijab for use as part of their official dress code while on duty.
  • A declaration of this court that the defendants’ approval of Hijab as part of the official dress code for Nigerian Police officers amounts to the adoption of Islam as state religion in Nigeria and therefore a flagrant violation of Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
  • A declaration of the court that true  interpretation and/or construction of Section 42(1)(a)(b)of 1999 Constitution (As the Amended) the defendants approval of the use of Hijab as part of the official dress code for Nigerian  female of  Muslim police officers with public funds without approving dress code for other Nigerian female police officers of other religion is discriminatory and therefore illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.
  • A declaration of the court that by virtue of Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended) Nigeria is a secular State.
  • An order of the court  annulling and /or cancelling the use of Hijab as part of the official dress code for female Muslim Nigerian police officers for being at variance and inconsistent with the provisions of Sections 1(1)(3), 10 , 42(1)(a)(b) and 214 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended) and therefore improper , illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.
  • An order of the court restraining  the defendants from further violating the provisions  1(1)(3), 10 , 42(1)(a)(b) and 214 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended), through their act of permitting the use of Hijab as part of the official dress code for Nigerian female Muslim police officers .
  • An order of the court compelling the defendants to stop forthwith the production, issuance, distribution and use of Hijab as part of the official dress code for Nigerian female Muslim.
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