Hundreds of Muslims and Christians supporters of claimants and defendants were locked out of the Isabo High Court, at the resumed hearing of the hijab case instituted by the nine-year-old Aisha AbdulAleem in Abeokuta on Friday.
AbdulAleem instituted the case against Mrs Kushimo, Principal Gateway Junior Secondary School, Abeokuta for violating her fundamental human rights by forcefully removing her hijab (female headcover).
Other defendants in the case include the State Commissioner for Education, and Attorney General/Commissioner for Justice and the Ogun State Government.
The supporters on both sides, who arrived the court premise in different religious attires, were prevented by security personnel from entering the court premises.
Only litigants and others who have businesses at the court entrance.
The presiding judge, Justice Bamgbose Alabi, who showed dismay over the crowd that throng the court over the case, said the mobilisation of the crowd would not affect his decision and the positions of the law on the matter.
“I was wondering why we have that large number of crowd. We are going to look at it (hijab case) and see what the law says.
“I am not moved by these large number of people.
“If they like they should litter the court premises, my judgement will be according to the law,” Bamgbose said.
Justice Bamgbose urged the representatives of the supporters to take their time to inform them of the proceeding of the court instead of besieging the court premises to show solidarity.
Meanwhile, parties in the case failed to reach a consensus on alternative suitable public schools to be attended by Aisha before the determination of the case.
Justice Bamgbose had earlier advised the parties to reach the consensus at the last hearing of the case but the counsels to the claimants and defendants reported that they could not reach an agreement due to irreconcilable differences on the issue.
While the counsel to the defendants, Yetunde Oresanya said the State Government offered to enrol Aisha at Nawairudeen secondary school at either Isabo or Obantoko, counsel to the claimant, Semiu Akinbami said the proposal was intended to frustrate the girl and her parents.
“We were able to meet the day before yesterday, we suggested two schools – Nawairudeen at Isabo and somewhere at Obantoko.
“They said both schools are not acceptable.”, Oresanya said.
Responding, counsel to the claimant, Akinbami said the schools suggested were too far.
“It is about seven kilometres to her house. We told them to choose a school closer to her house because she leaves at Olomore.
“We suggested some schools to them, but they insisted she should go to Nawairudeen at Isabo or Obantoko.
“All that they have said is their version. And we have our own version too. It is not as if that we are denying the girl from going to school.
“This is vindictive; it is not fair and I don’t know what they will lose by allowing her to attend public school with hijab?”
“This is victimisation and intimidation.
“They asked the girl to reduce the learnt of the hijab, she did and even after the intervention of the Education commissioner; they still did not allow her into the school with the hijab,” Akinabmi said.
The presiding judge remarked that he only advised the parties to agree on a school for Aisha in order not to continually deny her access to education, adding that he will continue with the hearing.
Justice Bamgbose had earlier granted the application of the respondents, seeking the leave of the court for a further written address in support of the counter affidavit.
The judge had queried why counsel to the traditionalists, Thomas Akintubuwa, who sought the clearance of the court to be part of the case as amicus curiae (friend of the court).
“It is the court that will determine whether you can be invited as amicus curiae,” Akintubuwa said.
Citing order 13, Justice Bamgbose said that he is preparing his brief and address in order to help the court in taking the decision on the case.
He added that efforts should be made to prevent the case from escalating to a religious crisis.
At the last hearing of the case, Akintubuwa had informed the court of the intention of the traditionalists to be joined in the case promising to file the application at the next hearing.
In a related development, two more respondents have filed an application to be joined in the case.
They include Micheal Akinbode with Abayomi Oyenuga as his counsel and AbdulAzeez Jimoh with Tunde Loutayo-Aro as his counsel.
Both counsels to the claimant and defendants asked the court to give them time to study their applications as they were served today.
The judge adjourned the case until Monday, Feb. 4 for further hearing.
From Jamiu Folarin, Abeokuta