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BN Hot Topic: Should Firdaus have been Called to Bar?

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BN Hot Topic: Should Firdaus have been Called to Bar? - BellaNaija

The story is everywhere, Firdaus denied by the Council of Legal Education from being called to bar because she insisted on wearing her hijab.

That’s it. That’s the entire story. Yes, she graduated from the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN) with a 2:1 and did well in Law School. But all that is besides the point. She was denied because she insisted on wearing a hijab.

There have been arguments for and against her decision.

The people against say rules are rules. There are a lot of them: You’re to wear nothing on your head. You’re to not fix weaves or braid. You must wear a certain kind of shoe. You must wear a certain kind of dress. Rules are rules.

But what are we to do when rules infringe upon our fundamental human rights?

And that’s where the arguments for come in. They say it is her fundamental human right, to wear a hijab. That she wears one has nothing to do with how well or not she dispenses her duties as a lawyer. Her wig fits right on top of the hijab, so there is no disfiguring it.

But are fundamental human rights absolute?

What do you think?

60 Comments

  1. te

    December 15, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    She should have worn the wig
    That’s part of being a lawyer!

    • noname

      December 15, 2017 at 3:48 pm

      From that picture, looks like she did wear the wig. The problem they had is the hijab underneath it.
      I been seeing so many people on twitter saying ‘its the law’ and I’m just not understanding. If it is infact the law, then it is a discriminatory one and that is an issue. Shouldn’t laws be made in accordance with the constitution or is it different in Nigeria?
      “oh she should have just removed it, it’s not that big a deal”. her religion is obviously a big deal to her and if we have freedom of religion then she should be allowed to wear her hijab. Her wearing the hijab does not affect her competency as a lawyer and it is not infringing on the rights of anybody so I don’t understand.
      If there is anyone that is well informed and can provide some clarity on this, please do cos I really want to understand the logic behind this law

  2. Moniker

    December 15, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    The first question should be where are loyalty lies. Her Religion or Country. She picked religion. Meanwhile, while she studied Law, it wasn’t religious law she was studying.
    Kudos to the BAR. She just struck the Bar, we will move on. Can the same be said of her?

    • Fizzy

      December 15, 2017 at 2:24 pm

      No issue here. You know the rules. Follow the rules or get out. Ndi muslims always looking for trouble.

    • Anon

      December 15, 2017 at 2:25 pm

      Ninja barrister. Rubbish.

    • Kkk

      December 15, 2017 at 2:40 pm

      You are just an ignorant piece of trash

    • Jummy

      December 15, 2017 at 2:56 pm

      You don’t have to agree with what she did, but your opinion was quite brash and mean.

    • Bibi

      December 15, 2017 at 3:51 pm

      Which fundamental human right ? Please separate religion from the state.

    • Timb

      December 15, 2017 at 3:57 pm

      I’m sure you’re a very patriotic Nigerian who follows all the rules and laws of the country, but please ease off with your righteous pontification.

      I’m certain that Firdaus will do very fine, and when my daughters grow up i’ll tell them about Firdaus, the brilliant and brave Nigerian lawyer who stood her ground based on what she believed was right and her right under the law.

  3. gracramyde

    December 15, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    If there’s anything i learnt from Hacksaw Ridge (yes, It’s a movie and also a true life story), it;s that rules are such trivial things sometimes. The law is made for man, not animals. If you have seen the movie, you will know how this man who would have been ejected from the army back in the days of the war because he was a concientious objector (refused to hold a gun) went ahead to rescue about 70 people SINGLEHANDEDLY, A VERY FRAIL LOOKING MAN AT THAT!!
    Some will argue that she knew what the rules were before she went into the practice, but then, should we let such things as this deter us from being who we know is what we’ve been called to be????
    I say we create a movement. I say we rise up to challenge all this rules that don’t make any sense. God knows we have alot of things to be fighting against in Nigeria than this.
    #callFirdaustobar

    • Jennietobbie

      December 15, 2017 at 7:55 pm

      ????????????Saw that movie this summer and I agree with you ???

  4. Anon

    December 15, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    No issue here. You know the rules. Follow the rules or get out. Ndi muslims always looking for trouble.

    Bella, bye. You keep swallowing my comment. I comment under Anon and you post. Thunder fire you for wasting my data.

    • Iya ibeji

      December 15, 2017 at 9:25 pm

      Your comment should not even be posted at all. What’s with the Ndi muslims? A muslim acted based on her personal belief, why make it about all muslims?

  5. whocares

    December 15, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    this is bs…. last i checked, the Nigeria constitution says no one should be discriminated on the basis of their religion… this is not about sentiments, this is a black and white fact present in the Nigerian constitution. I hope someone takes up her case probono so she can sue them!! I wonder how the council for legal education intend to argue that this isn’t religious discrimination; and before anyone comes to talk about rules etc- the bar association can keep its rules whilst respecting and making alternative provisions to accommodate other religions.. if they had alternative wigs that maybe had a covering of some sort or something. it might be that it would be more expensive than the average wig (which is another problem of its own, but manageable in the least). I dont even know why our barristers still wear wigs but that is a discussion for another day.
    I also wonder what female muslim barristers have been doing until now and why no one challenged this clear nonsense going on until this lady spoke out.
    And just because “rules are rules” doesn’t mean they are fair rules.. the council is not an entity of its own, it is also subject to Nigerian laws and has to operate within the confines of the laws. Someone pls pls pls plsp pls take up this lady’s case and sue!! it would lead to a change in the organisation’s rule at least. one that is more accommodating and not so dated!

  6. Papermoon

    December 15, 2017 at 2:44 pm

    Welcome I believe while in law school she saw the requirements and decided to go any way, so why now? In any case is she the first Moslem to be called to the bar? Well the BAR shoes not pander to any religion, it makes its own rules, if you don’t agree, well See Before you leap next time. Else the shintos, will come with their own, next will be the Ekankars, then the Buddhist, then the Christians, then the Zoroastrians, then the Bahais then where do we end. It’s a uniform, take it out leave it.

  7. Chichi

    December 15, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    This isn’t about religion. These are rules, why can’t people tell the difference? There are deeper life Christians who don’t wear trouser but are forced to do so because of nysc, and besides she schooled there for 6 years knowing this was a rule but still went ahead to oppose it on the day she was going to be called to the bar? Girl you played yourself

  8. Uche

    December 15, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    This is totally not fair. Everyone should be treated fairly and without discrimination. She went to law school like others and did well. Her religion has no impact on her efficacy as a lawyer and we should not discriminate against her because of her faith and because she wears a hijab. It is really sad that some people are still backward in their thinking and some laws or rules that fuel discrimination need to be changed. This lady for goodness sake was denied by the Council of Legal Education from being called to bar because she insisted on wearing her hijab.This is against her human rights as she has worked hard and deserve to be called to BAR whether she wears a hijab or not. We still have a LONG way to go regarding addressing Gender Inequalities like this in Nigeria.

  9. Chic

    December 15, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    She knew the rules before applying for Law or at least in the course of the program, but expected them to bend it for her as always. The rules for call to bar include natural hair, minimal makeup, no long nails, black shoes. For Muslims, plain black turban. Rules are rules for certain reasons. There are code of conduct and ethics for every profession, and dress codes are not exempted from some of these codes. Must we drag religion into everything in this country? For instance, The Nigerian Constitution permits you to carry books, to buy books and to read books wherever and whenever you like , but do you carry books to the examination hall? This is just a maximum of 5 hours program, and you can go back to normal life for goodness’ sake.

    • Alex

      December 16, 2017 at 6:39 am

      God bless your reasoning! @.”…carrying books to the examination hall….” is a brilliant analogy. My take is, she most definitely knew about the rule before hand but chose to be adamant. Maybe this is how she intends to make her career blow….#whoknows?

  10. Robin Hood

    December 15, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    Nigeria is a secular nation and as such people should stop all this hypocritical holier than thou bullshit. Your religion is a personal affair

  11. keke driver

    December 15, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    …..Then*

    Muslim lawyers should be allowed to wear hijabs.

    Deeper life members shouldn’t be made to wear NYSC trousers.

    Lords chosen lawyers can wear their bullet proof vests.

    Celestial lawyers should be allowed to wear their white garments.

    Make we dey crase dey go…. It’s common sense.

    • tunmi

      December 15, 2017 at 5:11 pm

      and what would be wrong if these were allowed to happen? It would be one thing if these dress restrictions were created out of a safety concern. As long as the dress does not inhibit the role the person is playing, I see why not.

      Also, women should have taken this discrimination to court a long time ago. How can they not be allowed to fix weave or braids all because of this law? It’s discriminatory and I’m surprised it was allowed to go on.

  12. Isbah

    December 15, 2017 at 3:26 pm

    It is her fundamental human right to wear her hijab. I don’t know why the Bar chose to see that as a problem. The most important thing is she studied Law, graduated with a good grade hence she is qualified and should be called to Bar…..Simple

  13. Commentary

    December 15, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    People are so regressive and ignorant because of bigotry and intolerance. Our society is diverse in faith and culture and should therefore be inclusive not discriminatory. Is the hijab hurting anyone? How can such a petty issue even be a topic of discussion?. It’s actially an insult to the profession that they would even consider it an issue.

    Obsession over rules that don’t make sense or add value or progress to the society is stupidity. As long as she’s tidy and professional looking and she knows her onions and can fight for someone else’s rights who cares???

    On to more productive things….smh

  14. Rukky

    December 15, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    But as africans we do learn from the whites innit? To the best of my knowledge, there’s a judge in the USA who is a hijabi and she’s black. Well.. hmmm

    • Didi

      December 15, 2017 at 5:25 pm

      The fact is she should not wear hijab on the grad day from law school, it’s a rule. Will one day kill her and send her to hell. How has the other Muslims being doing it.

    • meems

      December 15, 2017 at 8:02 pm

      I can’t deal with this your comment. What?????????

  15. Rukky

    December 15, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    Carolyn Walker-Diallo was sworn in as a civil judge for the 7th Municipal District at the Brooklyn Burough Hall, New York in 2015. I just searched on google.

  16. mywifeisfiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine

    December 15, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    The problem with the contraption called Nigeria is that legal scholars will not wake up to the debate; journalists will not carry it far enough so that we know who is wrong or right. Did she break any dress code? What does the constitution say about her rights as a Muslim. We love to debate about bulls— and wallow in complete ignorance. To hell with Nigeria

  17. Rukky

    December 15, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    Carolyn Walker-Diallo was sworn in as a civil judge for the 7th Municipal District at the Brooklyn Burough Hall, New York in 2015.

  18. Timb

    December 15, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    Our colonial masters which we are aping after have Judges such as Sir Rabinder Singh a Sikh who wears a Turban to court and there are numerous Officers who wear turbans and Hijabs also.

    On the one hand people talk about producing strong female role models, we now have a young intelligent woman who by all indications stood her ground and some people are joyous because she was denied for defending religious freedom enshrined under the law.

    It’s the Muslim girl today but tomorrow it may be someone else.

    Watch this space!!! This will be the last of such discrimination.

  19. omomo

    December 15, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    she should have been called to the bar ..dont see anything wrong with putting on a black fitted turban and a wig on top..and no I’m not muslim

  20. Ace

    December 15, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    She deliberately broke a law she was already aware of.

  21. Omolara

    December 15, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    The rule in law school is that you cannot wear a wig on a wig. During call to bar everybody must be on natural hair. Attachment or any form of weave on is not allowed. Besides for muslims caps are allowed but not hijab as your ears must show for identification. She knew the rules and she decided not to abide. Its her call

    • Manny

      December 16, 2017 at 7:37 pm

      There’s nothing that annoys me more than hearing “that’s how it has been done for a long time and that’s how we should continue doing it”
      These rules are archaic and should be done away with. No weave/wig???? Is there actually someone that checks this? Do they also check for toupees on men?
      smh for Nigeria – always focusing on the minor

    • Manny

      December 16, 2017 at 7:49 pm

      When Wole Soyinka and his friends decided to protest against the wearing of suits, people said they were rebels and shouldn’t rock the boat.
      Well, if they hadn’t, men would still be compulsorily wearing 3 piece suits on Nigerian campuses.

  22. Cindy Brown

    December 15, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    I feel inclined to express my humble opinion on this because i am a female lawyer called to the Nigerian Bar in the year 2013. All Nigerian Lawyers are well aware of the fact that before the Call to Bar Ceremony, a sensitization program is organised to instruct us as to the code and conduct of the day this includes acceptable mode of dressing for the day.
    This lady cannot claim to be ignorant of the very clear instructions which given to her and her colleagues.
    As females in the law profession, the non-muslims were warned against indecent dressing and the Muslims were clearly instructed not to wear full hijab but were advised to use ‘scarf cap’ (don’t know what to call it) to cover their hair, This lady was way out of line.
    It saddens me that she will want to break the law and rely on sentiments. With the wig,gown, suit, collaret, ‘scarf cap’, one is more than fully covered, so i don’t understand why she wanted to stuff herself with the extra coverage. Please if you know the right thing, do it, simple!

  23. tunmi

    December 15, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    and the stupid wig sef is not even our wig.

    • Engoz

      December 15, 2017 at 6:23 pm

      Wanted to write about that their nasty colonial blonde hair -piece they put on their head and think they look smart. But your simple statement of how stupid it looks has done it justice.

      Stupid rule that has absolutely nothing to do with how you do your job. Rules are meant to be either kept if it makes sense, amended or trashed in the dustbin. This is a rule that needs to be amended to accommodate the religious or cultural affiliations of its members. You will not die. If deeper life people don’t fight for their own rights, whose fault is it?

      Also why can’t a female braid her hair? Are you sure this is not a remnant of colonial rule made up of white men deciding how the African woman should keep her hair? The US army used to have this ban on braids and cornrows, until recently. White people don’t understand our hair and put these silly restrictions out of ignorance. Or is it a bunch of over religious, over-conservative, Nigerian men and women that came up with this nonsense?
      I sincerely hope you lawyers do not just go with the flow and accept every rule.

      Honestly, this is one of the professions that is the most disappointing in Nigeria. They are the ones to make up the judiciary arm of government. Your record has been disgraceful so far. Hijab should be the least of your problems.

  24. Didi

    December 15, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    This is what they call “Won ti get e mehn”
    Why did you wait for your grad day from law schl for this. If she is going to snap for international passport or just an ordinary passport for visa to USA or UK won’t she abide strictly to the rule that your ears must show wide n clear.
    This is so hypocritical of her, she just decided to test the waters. How did her fellow Muslims scale through all this years.

  25. Odun

    December 15, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    In my opinion it’s plain foolishness cos if she is scheduled for interview at the US embassy and part of the requirement is not to wear an hijab, she won’t hesitate to remove it, so why couldn’t she apply the same wisdom in this situation. It couldn’t have hurt her or anyone to hold her beliefs for an hour or two for the sacrifices she spent a whole year on, sometimes knowledge is just not enough, wisdom is the principal thing.

  26. Uwa

    December 15, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    When going for US visa interview or UK. Your ears must show and they don’t wear hijab for this. Same with law school. Just do the needful.

    • Iya ibeji

      December 15, 2017 at 9:31 pm

      Your comment makes a lot of sense. I know that in the situation you mentioned, its done for security reasons. Can you explain why your ears must show for your call to bar?

    • Ade

      December 16, 2017 at 9:02 am

      Err. ..I wore hijab for my UK visa interview oh. I had to bring out my ears but my hijab was still on and very much allowed. They respect headcoverings worn for religious reasons

  27. GANNY OGUNSHAKIN

    December 15, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    Wearing of wig by practicing lawyers in Court is part of the legacy / tradition Nigeria inherited from the our Colonial masters ( The English )The esteemed members of the bar and benches should not permit this foolishness to happen inside any Nigeria Courts. She’s free to go the way of the SHARIA Court if she wants to practice law wearing her hijab. If she insists on practicing the law outside the sharia court, she must comply with the dress code just like every other Lawyer. A word is enough for the wise. I’m just saying

    • whocares

      December 15, 2017 at 6:36 pm

      nooo. i accidentally liked your comment.. BN pls deduct the like abeg (so -1 like) . you said it yourself, the wig was inherited from colonialism (i cant bring myself to type “colonial masters”) why should we defend an institution that was racist and was developed to subjugate us? especially now in this century we are supposed to be rebuilding our nation? maan, im done. lol. you people on this blog e ni ya eyan ni were. lol.

  28. Nne

    December 15, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    We need to talk about the wig. Why are we holding on to the British tradition? Why are we not accommodating our own realities? You are not swearing her in because she wore hijab under the wig? We have serious issues in this shit show of ours.

  29. BJ

    December 15, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    Ode. Do American lawyers wear wig?. How can you compare oranges with apples. Some people have made Google their authority without adding common sense..Mtcheew

  30. BJ

    December 15, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    My comment is directed to Rukky

  31. Papacy

    December 15, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    Something that could have been fixed by simply obeying the rules. We should all learn to pick our fights. How long will the ceremony take?

  32. Jean17

    December 15, 2017 at 8:06 pm

    There are professions that have uniforms, if you know you aren’t ok with it’s, maybe do something else.

    We should be able to separate religion from the law abeg.

    If she is allowed to wear her hijab for her call to bar, then the law better me allowing Ayelala worshippers come in their wrappers, after all their religious is just as important to them as hers is.

    If the NBA allows this, then the better allow for all other religions, because anything other than that, is extreme discrimination.

    • ade

      December 16, 2017 at 9:10 am

      Lol. Receive sense abeg. I don’t think any other religion in Nigeria prescribes a ’24/7′ mode of dressing like Islam. As far as I know, Christians only have to wear their religious garments to their place of worship whereas it’s different for hijab. The only place you’re allowed to remove your hijab is in your house or an environment with females only and mahrams.
      I don’t know about your Ayelala worshippers though.

  33. Angel Deco

    December 15, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    The rules are rules!
    But, are these rules meant for humans or animals? Were they made by man or gods? Let’s be realistic biko. Muslims can be allowed to wear their veils or even caps underneath their wigs and the world will not end!
    The law shouldn’t infringe on fundamental rights. Simple!

    • Bee

      December 16, 2017 at 2:49 am

      @Angel Deco, others would also be allowed to wear wigs.
      Rules can’t be changed for one person,it has to accommodate all.

  34. Ej

    December 15, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    If it was stated not to wear hijab,but wear a cap where ur ears are shown, and she knew about such laws. Then it’s safe to say she did we intent

    • Bee

      December 16, 2017 at 2:43 am

      So true.
      I’ve even seen people talk about being discriminated as hijabi on various comment section, can you just obey the rule instead of trying to throw a pity party.
      Rules can be changed but if you knew it before time that this was the rule is either you follow it or you challenge it.This is similar to signing a contract it is either you agree or decline,simple.
      I don’t really know much about the Nigerian law school but things like this she would have fought for this when she was told at the beginning of law
      School; probably asking for turban options.
      I hate talking about religion because the argument is always based on emotions and sentiments.

  35. Adamazi

    December 15, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    Change must come to Nigeria. That wig should have been retired many moons ago.

  36. The real dee

    December 16, 2017 at 5:55 am

    I think the question here is, which Law takes precedence, the Constitution or the Law School rule book?

    If the Constitution guarantees your right to practise your religion or freedom of religion, and wearing a hijab is a way you practise your religion, and then Law School Rule Book insists you do something that is against your freedom of religion, does the latter supercede the former?

    Law School has some ridiculous rules though, in the name of being fit and proper, you’re restricted to a kind of life that has no bearing on your life as a lawyer post-law school. The compulsory dinners for example, are a comedic show to say the least, forks falling, people hiding under the table to eat the chicken on their plates because they are too embarrassed as they don’t know how to eat with a fork and knife.

    No accommodation for sick people during exams, someone will come in to write finals with IV site plastered because you had to leave the hospital for finals. An ambulance is already parked outside the hall to take in people who’ll pass out or go crazy during the exam. What a life!

  37. COKE

    December 18, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    If covering the hair was the problem, was her wig not covering enough… do you have to be a masquerade to prove a point?

  38. light

    December 19, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    well I’m certain that when the call to bar rules were made by the body of benchers ,it was not an attack against the Hijab,we have many religions , So to single out Islam is to discriminate against others. we can not rationalise whether a person’s right has been infringed ,only the court has the power to determine that , sec 46 of the constitution ,allows you to go any High court when your right is infringed or LIKELY to be infringed ,Firdaus could have taken the option of “likely to be infringed” and gone to to court the first time she heard about that rule, appearing there on that day with the expectation to be called and refusing to abide by a rule she did not earlier contest is not the way to protect your fundamental right .if she had been allowed ,it would amount to discrimination against every one including muslims who already abided and went into the hall,its not a cause to be fought in the ICC (the venue of call to bar ). THANK YOU

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