By Rafiu Ajakaye
Nigeria’s parliament on Tuesday launched a probe into the refusal by the country's law school to call a Muslim woman to the bar because she wore a head covering under her wig on religious grounds.
The House of Representatives unanimously adopted a motion calling for a probe of the controversy, hours after a Nigerian Muslim umbrella group threatened a mass protest and legal action over the incident.
Abdulsalam Firdaus, a graduate of law, was refused entry into the hall of the bar ceremony in the Nigerian capital last Wednesday after she insisted on her head covering under the official wig.
The law school said the hijab, or Muslim head covering, was not allowed at the ceremony. But Firdaus said such a dress code breaches her religious right as a Muslim woman, apparently relying on different court rulings which had pronounced the head covering a fundamental human right guaranteed by the country's constitution.
Parliamentarian Abubakar Damburam said in a motion he sponsored that the action of the law school violated the constitution and urged parliament to take action over the controversy.
“The constitution ...provides that every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion of belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance,” Damburam said.
“This [section 38 of the constitution] supersedes any provision by any government agency or institution,” he added.
The parliament unanimously adopted the motion and asked its committees on the judiciary and justice to probe the incident and submit a report within two weeks.
The law school said it would meet on the development later this week, refusing to make any public comment on an issue that has again revealed the deep divisions among the country's faith communities.