ISI hijab crisis: Court allows traditionalists, others to join suit

JUSTICE Ladiran Akintola of the Oyo State High Court sitting at Ringroad, Ibadan on Friday granted leave to two other parties to join the suit filed by 14 students of the International School Ibadan (ISI) on behalf of the ISI Muslim Parents Forum to contest the restriction of use of hijab on uniforms within the school after the claimant indicated they had no objection to the application.

The 14 pupils (all minors) filed the suit against the University of Ibadan, ISI, Mrs Phebean Olowe, the ISI principal and Professor Abideen Adeyinka Aderinto, the chairman board of governors of the ISI to ask for court orders for the enforcement of their fundamental rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and freedom from discrimination, right to dignity of human persons and right to education.

The parties allowed to join the suit as co-respondents are Tunde Olutayo Aro, on behalf of his daughter, Iteoluwakishi Aro, the 2017/2018 social perfect of the school and Babalawo Awosanmi Abe for his children Fatunmishe Abe and Fawoke Abe on behalf of members of traditionalist parents forum of ISI.

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Babalawo Abe in his applying joins the suit stated that his children who are traditionalists and Ifa worshippers were stopped from freely practising their religion by preventing them from entering the school premises for adorning traditional beads, a sign of their faith because it was not part of the prescribed school uniform.

The purpose of joining the suit according to him is to seek redress and enforce the alienable rights of association and allow traditionalists represent their religious beliefs through adornment in the school which is the same rights being sought to be enforced by the Muslim Parents forum.

Also, two other parties indicated their interest to join the suit; the secular parents’ forum and the body of Alumni. The two bodies informed the court that they will file the necessary processes before the next sitting on the matter.

Before adjourning the matter for the other parties to file their papers, Justice Akintola urged the parties not to heat up the polity unnecessarily and explore options of an amicable settlement.

“We are all Nigerians, we met this nation peaceful and we must ensure that it remains so. We owe the nation that duty. We should all not unnecessarily heat up the polity. I am talking to all the parties.

“I believe an amicable resolution is best. Don’t let us further divide ourselves. Don’t overheat the polity. I want parties to sleep over this, meet and resolve the issue,” Justice Akintola stated.

The case was adjourned till February 20, 2019, for mention with an order that all interested parties file the necessary documents before the date.

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