Ogun Hijab Crisis: Court bar hundred of Muslims, Christians faithfuls

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Hundreds of Muslims and Christians supporters of claimants and defendants were today (Friday 25thJanuary, 2019) locked out of the Isabo High Court, Ogun State at the resumed hearing of the case instituted by nine year old Aisha AbdulAleem on the alleged violation of fundamental human rights by Mrs Kushimo, Principal Gateway Junior Secondary School, Abeokuta.

Other defendants in the case include the State Commissioner for Education; Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice and Ogun State Government.

The supporters, who arrived the court premise in different religious attires, were prevented by security personnel stationed at the entrance of the gate, allowing only litigants and others who have businesses at the court entrance.

Reacting, presiding judge, Justice Bamgbose Alabi who again showed dismay over the crowd, described as massive by one of the lawyers in the court, insisted that the mobilisation will not affect his decision and the positions of the law on the matter.

“I was wondering why we have that large number of crowd. We are going to look at it (hijab case) and see what the law says. I am not moved by the large number of people. If they like they should littered the court premises, my judgement will be according to the law.”, Bamgbose observed.

Justice Bamgbose urged the representatives of the supporters to take their time to inform them of the proceeding of the court instead of besieging the court premises to show solidarity.

Meanwhile, parties involved in the case of alleged violation of fundamental human rights of nine year old Aisha AbdulAleem has failed to reach a consensus on alternative suitable public schools to be attended by Aisha before the determination of the case.

Justice Bamgbose had earlier advised the parties to reach the consensus at the last hearing of the case but the counsels to the claimants and defendants reported that they could not reach agreement due to irreconcilable differences on the issue.

While the counsel to the defendants, Yetunde Oresanya said the State government offered to enrol Aisha at Nawairudeen secondary school at either Isabo or Obantoko; lawyer to the claimant, Semiu Akinbami said the proposal was intended to frustrate the girl and her parents.

“We were able to meet the day before yesterday, we suggested two schools… Nawairudeen at Isabo and somewhere at Obantoko. They said both schools are not acceptable.”, Oresanya reported

“The school is too far. It is about seven kilometres to her house. We told them to choose school closer to her house, because she leaves at Olomore. We suggested some schools to them, but they insisted she should go to Nawairudeen at Isabo or Obantoko”, Akinbami explained.

“All that they have said is their version. And we have our own version too. It is not as if that we are denying the girl from going to school. We told them to choose Nawairudeen but they are insisting on another school.”, Oresanya countered.

“It is vindictive. It is not fair. I don’t know what they will lose by allowing her to attend public school with hijab?”…..This is victimisation and intimidation. They asked the girl to reduce the learnt of the hijab, she did and even after the intervention of the Education commissioner; they still did not allow her into the school with the hijab.”, Akinabmi lamented.

Reacting, the presiding judge restated that he only advised the parties to agree on a school for Aisha in order not to continually deny the girl access to education adding that he will continue with the hearing.

Justice Bamgbose had earlier granted the application of the respondents seeking the leave of the court for further written address in support of the counter affidavit.

The judge had queried why counsel to the traditionalists, Thomas Akintubuwa, who sought the clearance of the court to be part of the case asamicus curiae (friend of the court).

“It is the court that will determine whether you can be invited as amicus curiae”

Citing order 13, Justice Bamgbose said that he is preparing his brief and address in order to help the court in taking decision on the case, adding that efforts should be made to prevent the case from escalating to religious crisis.

At the last hearing of the case, Akintubuwa had informed the court of the intention of the traditionalists to be joined in the case promising to file the application at the next hearing.

In a related development, two more respondents have filed an application to be joined in the case instituted by nine year old Aisha AbdulAleem on alleged violation of fundamental human right.

They include Micheal Akinbode with Abayomi Oyenuga as his counsel as well as AbdulAzeez Jimoh with Tunde Loutayo-Aro as his counsel.

Both counsels to the claimant and defendants asked the court to give them time to study their applications as they were served today.

After over one hour of considering the case today, the judge adjourned to Monday 4th February, 2019 for further hearing and determination of applications before him.

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