The Muslim Lawyers’ Association of Nigeria has rejected the new directive given by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on how lawyers should dress.
According to MULAN, the FCT High Court had in a press release on March 28, 2018 “prohibited the use of any apparel underneath wigs by lawyers and by extension the hijab by female Muslim lawyers.”
But in a communiqué generated at the end of its National Executive Committee meeting in Benin, Edo State, on April 3, 2018, MULAN rejected the directive, describing it as “unfortunate, draconian, illegal, unconstitutional and unlawful.”
In the said communiqués signed by its President, Dr. Kamal Dawud, the body contended that the directive by the FCT High Court was at variance with Section 38 of the constitution, which guarantees citizens’ right to manifest their religion.
It added that the court’s decision was “contrary to the 2004 resolution of the Body of Benchers which allows female Law School students and legal practitioners to use head cover underneath their wigs.”
“MULAN NEC condemns the directive in the press release in the strongest term and urges the FCT High Court to reverse its decision contained in the press release forthwith,” the communiqué said.
The body of Muslim lawyers described as needless the furor generated in the legal circles over the case of Firdausa Al-Jannah Amasa, who was barred from the call to Bar ceremony for wearing hijab.
It insisted that there was no law prohibiting the use of hijab, adding that Section 38 of the constitution, which guarantees the right of individuals to manifest their religious beliefs, had “enjoyed several judicial interpretations by superior courts to the effect that this right is inalienable provided it does not go against public interest.”
“The use of Hijab in public institutions, in particular, has enjoyed affirmative judicial interpretation. For this reason, MULAN NEC wonders why this issue is generating this avoidable furor especially in the echelon of justice,” it said.
The body of Muslim lawyers, however, said it had finally resolved “to design a hijab-compliant collaret with bib for use by Muslim female legal practitioners so as to conform to the tradition of the legal profession in Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, the body said it had yet to endorse any presidential candidate for the 2018 Nigerian Bar Association national election.