The human rights Lagos-based human rights lawyer, Malcom Emokiniovo Omoirhobo who caused a stir in the courtroom of the Nigeria Supreme Court, Abuja on Thursday when he appeared in the full traditional attire of a native witch doctor to attend court proceedings, has explain why he dressed in stranged attire to the apex court
The lawyer said he dressed to court in that manner to exercise his fundamental human rights following the judgment of the Supreme Court that allowed all Nigerians to express their way of worship and the use of hijab in schools and public places.
It would be recalled that the Supreme Court had on Friday given approval to female Muslim students to wear hijab to school in Lagos State.
Five out of the seven members of the court’s panel which sat on the case ruled in favour of hijab while the two remaining members dissented.
The lawyer, who arrived at the court at about 9:05 am, created a scene in the courtroom when other lawyers who had been seated were taken by surprise to see him robed in traditional attire to look like an herbalist.
The lawyer who gained entry into the court was barefooted with feathers attached to his wig. He was also wearing a gourd on his necklace with cowries and a red wrapper tied around his waist.
He dared the police officers and security guards who approached him to go out saying that he has the right to come to the court in his traditional regalia without any harassment in line with the judgment.
The court proceedings were abruptly stopped when the presiding justice suddenly announced that they would be going for a short break.
Though it could not be immediately ascertained what was responsible for the short break.
The situation attracted a large crowd who thronged the courtroom to catch a glimpse as people were seen using their mobile phones to take his pictures.
Malcom who addressed journalists said, “I am very grateful to the Supreme Court just last week Friday they made a very resounding decision that promotes Section 38 of the constitution. That is our right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. That we are free to express our way of worship in our schools and in our courts. That decision was reached on Friday and that has encouraged me.
“Because I am a traditionalist and this is the way I worship. Based on the decision of the Supreme Court this is how I will be dressing henceforth in court because I am a strong adherent to “Olokun” the god of rivers.”
Malcom said the implication of the judgement was that every Nigerian, including doctors, police, military students, and journalists, can now wear their mode of worship in public places.
He added that he was not against the judgement rather he was happy with the decision because it strengthened and enriched the rights of all Nigerians as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
In a majority decision of six in favour and one dissent, the apex court of Nigeria on Friday in Abuja. affirmed the rights of Muslims Female Students in Lagos state public primary and secondary schools. to wear Hijab .
“The supreme court erroneously held that wearing the hijab was an Islamic injunction and an act of worship required of Muslims and consequently the banning of female Muslim students from wearing Hijab to school is a violation of their fundamental rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, dignity of human persons and freedom from discrimination .
“The supreme court heavily relied on section 38 of the 1999 constitution which guarantees every Nigerian citizen the right to freedom of thought , conscience and religion. The justices failed to see the rights contained in section 38 of the constitution as private rights that must be exercised privately in our homes , place of worship , community , religious schools and not in the public or public schools for that matter funded with tax payers money .
“I respectfully submit that the Supreme court’s decision allowing female students to wear Hijab, is a flagrant violation of section 10 of the Nigerian constitution which provides for the secularity of Nigeria by prohibiting the Government of the Federation or of a state from adopting any religion as state religion . The justices ignored the secularity of Nigeria in section 10 of the constitution which has mutilates and/or whittle down the individual right of every Nigerian citizen to freedom of thought , conscience and religion as contained in section 38 of the constitution . The supreme court.’s decision I respectfully submit tantamount to its encouraging the adoption of Islam as State religion and this I humbly submit is an error .
“It is sad and disturbing that the justices of the supreme court failed to see to see how our public schools will look if students from white garment church family background like Celestial Church of Christ and Cherubim and Séraphin Church sew their uniform in sutana style covering all their bodies from neck to toe with cap to march and go to school bare footed because it is a Christian injunction and an act of worship required of them ?
“How will our public schools look like if the children of traditionalists come to school with white powder on their faces and necks with charm bracelet on their arms and cowrie’s or a life tortoise tied around his necks ? How will our public schools look like if children from Rastafarian families leave their dreadlocks unkept or wear their Rasta cap or tam in line with their religious believes.
“It is unfortunate and regrettable that the justices of the supreme court failed to see that public schools are established by government with public funds and by virtue of section 10 of the Nigerian 1999 constitution are secular . Our public schools are suppose to be centers for learning and not worship centers and therefore students must be helped to focus on their studies at school not religion because religion is a personal thing that must be practiced privately .
“Whether we admit it or not this supreme court’s decision will give rise to the identification of students’ religion by their dress code which in turn will bring about discrimination , favouritism , nepotism , victimisation , disunity and distraction in the public school system
“I appreciate the fact that the judgement of the supreme court is final and must be complied with nevertheless I find solace in the fact that the supreme court do reverse her decisions when it finds it expedient to do so especially after it has erred in an early decision and this is one of such occasion .
“I want to thank the justice that dissented in this case for his courage, independent mind and level of intelligence to apply the law to serve its purpose And for the other six justices who erroneously gave the judgement, I urge them to be ready to reverse it at the slightest opportunity because it is a bad decision in a multi religious / secular country like Nigeria.”