It is with rude shock that the Coalition of Islamic Organisations on Justice for Firdausa Amasa Abdulsalam and Hijab-related Matters received the ruling of His Lordship, Justice Anwuli Chikere sitting as Court No. 4 of the Federal High Court, Abuja in Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/110/2018 between Adeniyi Ojo & 7 Ors vs House of Representatives, a matter filed by 8 Christians to stop the public hearing earlier scheduled by the House of Representatives to hold on 14th March, 2018 on the hijab controversy between the Body of Benchers and Miss Firdausa Amasa.
The Coalition, which is an amalgamation of 36 reputable Islamic groups in Nigeria, considers the ruling as perverse and a travesty of justice and the judge as biased in all regards.
It will be recalled that the eight Christians approached the court and filed the action sometimes on 31st January, 2018 in a clandestine manner. Following the application of the Plaintiffs (the 8 Christians), the court, moving at the speed of lightening, dished out an order of injunction restraining the House of Representatives from holding the public hearing only few hours to the well-publicised public hearing. This, thus successfully halted the public hearing. This was a missed opportunity for the sensitive matter to be addressed by the Nigerian Parliament.
Against this background, the incorporated trustees of Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative, a registered non-governmental organisation affected by the order of injunction dished out by the court, subsequently approached the court, applying to join the suit as an interested party.
In compliance with the rules of the court, the organisation filed all the processes expected of it. It is, however, unfortunate that from the day one when the application was sought to be moved, the outcome of what the ruling of the court would be on the application for joinder was already signalled as the court did not hide its bias.
It was, however, surprising that the judge did so in a peculiarly disturbing manner as it showed from his flagrant display of bias.
The most absurd aspect of the ruling of the court was where the court relied on section 46 of the Constitution and narrowly interpreted it to suit its agenda by holding, among others, that the section refers only to “any person” and not an organisation! The Coalition wonders whether the court suddenly forgot the concept of legal personality!
We dare say that the grounds relied on by the court in refusing the Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative’s application for joinder are untenable and unsupportable in law. We now understand better why the court was quick to grant the order of injunction to restrain the House of Representatives in the first instance even though the motion for injunction filed by the Plaintiff was, at the time, not up to seven days between the date of service and the date same was moved by the Plaintiff.
The Coalition suspects an unholy alliance working to frustrate the course of justice. Or what else would be expected from a Christian judge in an action filed by 8 Christians who have nothing to do with hijab and assigned by the Legal Department of the Defendant to another Christian!
Can this be a mere coincidence? Definitely not! The processes leading to and the entire outcome of the ruling smacks of Islamaphobia, hatred, prejudice and bias.
The Coalition appeals to Muslim stakeholders and other lovers of peace and peaceful co-existence to remain calm and law abiding as we take the necessary steps to appropriately challenge the unjust ruling.
Chairman of the Coalition