By Francis IWUCHUKWU
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) has been dragged before a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria, over the approval of using Hijab scarf by Policewomen under their caps.
The IGP was taken to court by a Lagos-based human rights lawyer, Chief Malcolm Omirhobo.
Join as co-defenders in the legal offensive are the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).
According to a 60- paragraph affidavit in support of the Originating Summons sworn to by Chief Malcolm Omirhobo, he averred that, “as a Nigerian Citizen, it is his civic obligation and responsibility to defend the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at all times.
“That as a Nigerian citizen, he owes his allegiance to his country Nigeria and his country’s Constitution.
“He is a stakeholder of the Nigerian project and a co-owner of the Nigerian commonwealth.”
While stating that as a result of the above, he is familiar with the facts of the case, the human rights crusader insisted that he pays his taxes, Value Added Tax (VAT), and inclusive of other levies imposed on Nigerian citizens by the AGF.
According to Chief Omirhobo, the public interest case is being brought in the interest of the Nigerian Public especially for the poor, weak, illiterates, uninformed, defenseless and vulnerable ones therein.
The lawyer stated that the IGP is the head of the Nigerian Police Force whose responsibility is to maintain law and order in Nigeria.
It is equally the argument of the lawyer that the Nigerian Police Force is also a creation of the Nigerian Constitution and funded with the Nigerian taxpayers money and the common wealth of the Nigerian citizens to serve and protect the interest of all Nigerians of different tribes, religions , languages and cultures.
It is the further view of the rights activist that the Nigerian police Force is also a public institution and a national agency portraying the image of Nigeria.
In the views of Chief Omirhobo, the Nigerian Police Force is a part of or an agency of the Nigerian executive arm of government for the enforcement of law and maintenance of law and order.
The human rights activist told the court that the IGP, being the head of the Nigerian Police is subject to judicial review of the court, adding that the Federal Republic of Nigeria is both a multi-ethnic and religious state inhabited by over 200 million citizens of over 500 ethnic groups who speak over 400 different languages and identified with diverse cultures.
Apart from Islam and Christianity being the dominant religions in Nigerian, he argued that Nigerians practice other religions such as indigenous religion, African Traditionalists, Buddhist, Judaism, Daoism, Baha’i, Confucianism, Druze, Gnosticism, Jainism, Rastafarianism, Shinto, Skihism, Zoroastrianism, Eckist, Armocs, grail message, Voodism, Atheists etc.
Chief Omirhobo equally hinted the court that Nigeria became an independent nation in 1960 and at the point of her independence, its founding fathers agreed that the country will be a secular country, just as he added that by virtue of the Nigerian 1999 constitution (As Amended), Nigeria is a secular state without any officially recognized religion.
The lawyer had also insisted that the Nigerian Police comprises Nigerian Citizens of different religious beliefs and that it does not have any official religion, as the Nigerian police is a public institution and not a private organization.
He posited that the equipping, maintaining and funding of the Nigerian Police for effectiveness in performing her statutory and constitutional responsibilities is covered by the Nigerian 1999 Constitution.
In expressing his sadness before the court, Chief Omirhobo insisted that the IGP, with the tacit support of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) and the AGF approved new dress code for female Muslim personnel which permits them to wear stud earrings and Hijab headscarf under their berets or peak caps as the case may be while in uniform.
The new dress code, according to Chief Omirhobo was unveiled at the IGP meeting with Strategic Police Managers on March 3, 2022, with a further position that the IGP ordered the immediate distribution of uniforms, kits and other accoutrements to it’s Muslim female officers across the country, insisting that the Defendants are producing or procuring Hijab with public funds/taxpayer’s money.
The lawyer is consequently asking for:
“A declaration of the court that by the true interpretation and/or construction of Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended), it is improper, illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional for the IGP with the tacit support of the Federal Government and the Attorney General of the Federation to use public funds to approve, produce and/or procure, issue and distribute to Nigerian female police officers throughout Nigeria, Hijab for use as part of their official dress code while on duty?
“A declaration of this court that the defendants’ approval of Hijab as part of the official dress code for Nigerian Police officers amounts to the adoption of Islam as state religion in Nigeria and therefore a flagrant violation of Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended)
“A declaration of the court that true interpretation and/or construction of Section 42(1)(a)(b) of 1999 Constitution (As Amended) the defendants’ approval of the use of Hijab as part of the official dress code for Nigerian female of Muslim police officers with public funds without approving dress code for other Nigerian female police officers of other religion is discriminatory and therefore illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.
“A declaration of the court that by virtue of Section 10 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended) Nigeria is a secular State.
“An order of the court annulling and /or cancelling the use of Hijab as part of the official dress code for female Muslim Nigerian police officers for being at variance and inconsistent with the provisions of Sections 1(1)(3), 10 , 42(1)(a)(b) and 214 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended) and therefore improper, illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.
“An order of the court restraining the defendants from further violating the provisions of Section 1(1)(3), 10, 42(1)(a)(b) and 214 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended), through their act of permitting the use of Hijab as part of the official dress code for Nigerian female Muslim police officers.
“An order of the court compelling the defendants to stop forthwith the production, issuance, distribution and use of Hijab as part of the official dress code for Nigerian female Muslim.
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