Amasa Firdaus And The Body Of Benchers
“Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights or keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose. To that high concept, there can be no end save victory” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
The moment I came across the Instagram post on the case of Amasa Firdaus, a law school graduate who was not called to bar for wearing hijab, I quickly went through the Nigerian Constitution to check fundamental human rights again. I woke up in the mid-night to ask myself several questions as regards her case.
While some people are of the opinion that if you are in Rome, you behave like Romans, I opine that man must not also swallow his cough because he fears to disturb another. It’s clear to the blind that the constitution provides for right to our beliefs and religion. However, Late Nelson Mandela said and I quote: “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity”. Arguably, the body of benchers have denied Amasa Firdaus her rights.
It should be noted that if the body cannot protect the rights of individuals, then the institution cannot promote development that is sustainable. It is the right of Amasa Firdaus to be called to bar on December 12th, 2017 having done necessary things to be done, but this has been delayed or denied by a body. We should not then forget the quotes of Martin Luther King Junior that ” A right delayed is a right denied”, Fardaus has missed this year call to bar. If our rights do not have meaning to body of benchers, where then do our universal rights begin? All human rights are threatened when a neighbor is denied of his or her rights. Fardaus may not have the power to question the injustice on December 12, but it will be a big slap on the face of some us who walk around on our various campuses as comrades and student activists if she fails to protest. This, she has done perfectly well.
We should however be conscious that as we walk on the streets that any regulations or policy or act or order that is not in line with the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is null and void. So, in the actual sense of some of us who by one way or the order have attended some philosophy classes, we will agree that nothing should be accepted dogmatically and to be logical here, it means any order by the legal education that denies the constitutional right to religion is unlawful.
The fact that some persons removed their hijabs to be called to bar does not mean Firdaus was wrong to have made irreversible decision of not removing hers. Why? We live in a society where irregularities have been seen as norms and we all can witness that in our respective institutions. To me, Fardaus took a brave decision when others chose to compromise and that is why many have even failed to challenge the long tradition of wearing white and black.
Have we asked ourselves the code of conduct that denies people of their rights? As lovers of history, we may check what Justice Gumel said in his lead judgement: Lagos State Vs Miss Aishat Abdulkareem CA/L/135/15 . He stressed that hijab is an act of worship and also an Islamic injunction which would be a violation of the appellants rights to stop them from wearing hijabs. If Firdaus was wrong, we may have to stop using Bibles and Quran to swear in courts.
Adejumo Kabir is a student of Obafemi Awolowo University, campus journalist and public affairs analyst.