Nigeria’s court of appeals on Thursday ruled that Muslim female students can wear their head covering to schools, dismissing a government ban as “discriminatory and an infringement on the constitutional rights” of the affected students.
The appeals court, chaired by Justice Ali Gumel, also set aside a ruling on Oct. 17, 2014, by a Lagos high court which upheld the ban on the Muslim female head covering.
“The hijab is an act of worship. Refusal to allow female Muslim students is an infraction on their constitutional guaranteed right,” according to the five-man special panel set up to hear the controversial case brought by the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria.
“The judgment of the lower court is hereby set aside,” the panel added in a unanimous ruling read by Gumel.
Abdulganiyyi Adetola-Kazeem, counsel to the Muslim students, hailed the ruling.
“Their Lordships have just confirmed what we know before, that hijab is […] a right for the female Muslim recognized by the constitution and that no authority, whether government or any other, has the power to infringe upon it,” he said shortly after the ruling.
The Lagos government has yet to comment on the ruling which is subject to final appeal to the Supreme Court.