ANNALS OF HIJABIS ON KNOWISLAM.COM.NG Episode 11
A Muslim Right activist with one other was charged for obstructing the police from performing lawful duty. I am the counsel to the two defendants and we were waiting for the court to sit when the first defendant whispered to my hear that the court orderly is preventing the wife of one of them from entering the court simply because she was putting on her Niqab. I went out to inquire and the woman police (court orderly) informed me that the practice in their court is that they don’t allow a Niqabite and any man in turban into their court. She said she already prevented a man in turban from entering the court. I educated her on the wrong practice of that court but she would not agree with me. I then asked the ummu and others to follow me into the court room and they did. The Orderly went into the chambers to inform the magistrate of the development. She then came out that the magistrate said she must not come out and meet the Niqabite in the open court. She should either go out or remove the Niqab. We remained resolute and I told the orderly to leave her and let the magistrate come out and chase her out of the court because of her Niqab. The magistrate thereafter sat and the court was calm. “That woman in black putting on Veil should either remove the Veil or move out of the court”, she directed. While standing up, “she has an interest in this matter and she can not remove her Niqab which is her religious fundamental right”, I retorted.
What right has she”, the magistrate asked. She has the right to practice her religion and manifest same as enshrined in the constitution. I replied. “What right has she to the detriment of others” she added. Her right in this regard is not at the detriment of anybody. No harm is being caused and no security threat. So, her attire doesn’t affect anybody. If the court is in doubt for any reason, she can go to a corner for the woman officer to check her. ” I replied. “Orderly, get me another officer to chase her out of the court.
The police orderly came in with another male police officer who is an orderly to one of the High court judges in the premises. The orderly was moving towards the gallery where the Ummu was sitting but confused. From the bar, I faced him and asked him to hold on and he obeyed. I faced the magistrate and said “do not cause religious pandemonium in this society. This woman has every right to be in this court since she is not causing any disturbance.” Sighting anger in me, a senior colleague (May Allah protect him) who is also a Muslim asked me to sit down for him to address the court. I obliged. “This woman has not violated any law. She has the right to practice her religion. I am appealing to the court to accede to the request of the learned colleague and asked the female orderly to check the woman”. The magistrate then replied “He should have made the request humbly like you are making it now.” I stood up again “with due respect sir, I started my submission with the same request respectfully and without being rude to the court.” I addressed. “Let the woman follow the woman police to check her” the counsel addressed me. “I have no issue with that” I replied.
Ummu follow the police woman to a corner outside the court and come back to the court. I am sure there is nothing incriminating in you. ” I addressed the Ummu. So, she went out with the woman police together with her husband. Few minutes later, the woman police came in to the courtroom to inform the magistrate the she had examined the Ummu and there is no problem. “I don’t want to see that woman in this court except she removes her veil” the magistrate replied and continued with the ongoing case. I moved out of the court and met the Ummu sitting on a plastic chair provided her by the orderly (a sign of respect by the orderly though, but I was not satisfied) with her husband standing in front of her, Follow me to the courtroom” I addressed them. The two of them followed me and we went into the court gently without causing any disturbance.
The Ummu and her husband went to the gallery while I sat at the bar. Then a female senior colleague (not a Muslim) said to me: Alfa, let the woman obey the directive of the court.” “Which unlawful directive?” I replied. “Don’t let this cause religious crisis” she stated. “You should tell her (the magistrate) that not me” I replied. “I don’t want to see anybody in this court; everybody should move out of the court except the litigants in the ongoing case” the magistrate directed. “Better! This is a general directive, Everybody move out i stated. So they all moved out. When the case was concluded, our matter (case was called). I instructed my colleague to call in my clients and every body came in except Ummu. “Where is Ummu?” I asked my colleague. “She went to the toilet” he replied. “OK! No problem” I stated. The case proceeded but given the circumstances of the case, the prosecution informed the court of their intention to withdraw the charge against my client. The magistrate ordered them to come with an affidavit to that effect. We were about to agree on a date when Ummu stepped in to the court room again. Gangan! Action Ummu! The police order rushed to the court to inform the court that the woman refused to be prevented from entering into the courtroom.
Mr. Taiwo, you are instructing your client to disobey the court, the magistrate asked. “I am not instructing her to disobey the court” I replied. “What is now your stand?” She asked. “My stand is that she has every right to be in this court and no law can supercede the constitution.” I replied. “Well! I will rise and when your client is ready to comply, you can call me. I rise! Cooooourt! I then told my client that we would not leave the court if she doesn’t come back until 4pm when everybody closes. We planned to observe Dhuur in batches so that the defendants would not be recorded absent and have their bail revoked. After more than one hour, we saw some women police officers numbering four to five entering the magistrate’s chambers. I then told my client: In case she wants to harass Ummu with those women police officers, I will address the court and asked Ummu to leave the court to avoid any opprobrium or violence. But fortunately, the Magistrate (perhaps after weighing her options) sat again and ruled: “In view of the failure of the counsel to direct his clients to obey the directive of the court, I will adjorn this Matter for the counsel to comply. The case is hereby adjourned till **** day of November, 2018 at the instance of the defence. I rise!” Cooooourt! She did not even consult me for date and seek my convenience but no problem. WaliLlahil hamd!
My appreciation goes to my senior colleague Babatunde Alaka Esq for lending his voice and two of my colleagues, A. A. Afolayan and Oladejo Aremu for their support. Special appreciation to the Ummu for her doggedness. I have had the opportunity of fighting this cause in this same court when the magistrate asked one Ummu to remove her Veil in the court and before I could even address the court, the Ummu had already removed the Veil despite the fact that I had given her my assurance before the court sat.
- We must always be firm and courageous in fighting for our rights albeit in a lawful manner. Many of our sisters can not stand this kind of pressure. Some of them can even compromise an ordinary Hijab (without Niqab) at every slightest pressure.
- 2. We don’t need to be violent in fighting for our rights or embark on unwarranted protests and demonstrations which could lead to the destruction of lives and properties.
May Allah protect us and grant us steadfastness…. Aamiyn!
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