Now alot has been said about this issue, however I deem it fit to unveil some vied issues for determination.
1. Firdaus is a student of Nigeria Law School.
2. She has consented to abide by the Rules of Professional Conduct.(RPC) and other laws regulating legal practitioner and Student.Volunti *Non fit Injuria*
3. Most writers put a sparkling Sword on the Body of Benchers (BOB), but in which in reality BOB knows nothing about what was happening at the screening point for new aspirants. Their sole duty is to call to Bar those sited in the hall whom are *fit and proper*.
4. In Nigeria Law school,we have 3 compulsory dinner, how did she attend the two with her hijab on?
5. In 2010, Some groups of Ladies make an application for the use of a small cap which was granted,what happened to such procedure now?
Now alot of attention has been drown to this given it an undue relevance into our scared Bar and laymen alike whom Don’t even know a penny about law sending out words to our BOB’s whom knows nothing about it because she is not before them for admission in to the scared Bar.
She could have learned from the case of Kayode whom it’s has been thrown into the judicial cemetery for a massive uncelebrated judicial burial.(her’s won’t be different)
Has she forgotten that it’s Allah’s himself that said ” Nothing is an offence done under the influence of alcohol ( involuntary), mental diease of the mind, things done under force or pressure…. This is just exturpi causa non oritio actio.
Just as Shiek postulated;
In the circumstance, the decision of the Body of Benchers to refuse faith-based and other unapproved dress codes admittance to the Nigerian Bar (backed by s. 4(1) LPA which empowers the body to determine incidents of good character requisite for admittance to the Nigerian Bar) is a “law reasonably justifiable in a democratic society in the interest of public policy” within the meaning of s. 45(1)(a) of the Constitution, and therefore cannot be invalidated on the basis of s. 38(1) which is subject to the provisions of s. 45(1)(a) thereof.
On the second leg, we submit that the rights accruing to a person under s. 38(1) are validly derogable from if it is in the interest of protecting the rights and freedoms of other persons. This is the provision of s. 45(1)(b) of the Constitution. We had shown that the rights guaranteed under s. 38(1) avail not only the lady refused admittance to the Nigerian Bar for her conduct, but also the Body of Benchers as well. We had also shown that the Body of Benchers is entitled under s. 4 LPA to determine incidents of “good character” requisite for admittance to the Nigerian Bar; and that in the exercise of that entitlement, the Body of Benchers issued the “no faith-based or other unapproved dress code” rule in regard to admittance to the Nigerian Bar. In the circumstance, the generic rights of the lady in question cannot be asserted to the detriment of an express entitlement of the Body of Benchers to determine (in exertion of its rights to freedom of thought under s. 38 and power to determine good conduct for call to the Nigerian Bar under *S.4*LPA) the appropriate dress code for admittance to the Nigerian Bar. S. 45(1)(b) clearly allows a derogation from the said lady’s rights for the purpose of protection of another person’s rights – in this case the rights of the Body of Benchers.
Does the decision of the Body of Benchers to disallow faith-based or other unapproved regalia for call to bar ceremony constitute discrimination on account of religion?
Our simple answer to this question is that it does not. The provisions of s. 42(1)(a) of the Constitution are clear on the point that a disability to which any person is subjected on account of religion would ONLY constitute discrimination if those same disabilities are NOT extended to adherents of other religious beliefs. S. 42(1)(a) provides that a citizen of Nigeria of a particular religion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person, be subjected to either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other religions are NOT made subject. This is clearly not the case here as the “no faith-based or other unapproved dress code” rule of the Body of Benchers is applied to ALL aspirants to the Nigerian Bar, regardless of their religious beliefs or inclinations.
Indeed, it would amount to discrimination of adherents of other religious beliefs if a female Muslim aspirant to the Bar is allowed to wear her hijab underneath her wig and gown for her call to bar ceremony and say, a female Aladura aspirant to the Bar is not allowed to appear bare-footed wearing her white flowing gown and fluffed head cover band beneath her wig and gown for her call to bar ceremony. S. 42(1)(b) of the Constitution is instructive on the point. It provides that a citizen of Nigeria of a particular religion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person, be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is NOT accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other religions.
We have shown that the right guaranteed under *S*. *38* is not limited to freedom of religion, it also extends to freedom of thought and conscience which is available to any person in Nigeria – whether natural or artificial; hence the rights under that section accrue to both the Body of Benchers as an entity and the lady denied admittance to the Nigerian Bar by the body for her unruly conduct. We have also shown that those rights are not absolute and may be derogated from under s. 45 in the interest of public policy or for the purpose of protection of the rights of other persons. We further showed that an administrative decision subjecting a person of a particular religious inclination to disabilities which are extended to adherents of other religious beliefs CANNOT amount to discrimination under s. 42.
In the circumstance, we submit that the Body of Benchers was beyond reproach when it denied admittance to the Nigerian Bar to a lady who by her conduct, did not satisfy the body’s laid down indices for “good character” requisite for admittance to the Nigerian Bar under s. 4 LPA. And that in any case, the decision cannot amount to a breach of the lady’s constitutional rights to freedom of religion as it is now settled law that (a) a person who willingly joins a voluntary association cannot complain of the merits of its internal rules for the regulation of its members as voluntary associations have the right to lay down their own decisions and procedures even if they are unreasonable; the only recourse an aggrieved member has in such circumstance is to quit membership of the association (see *Mbanefo v Molokwu (2014) LPELR-22257(SC)), and (b) once a person makes the choice to study and practice law and thereby place his name on the roll of honour of belonging to the profession, he stands bound by the internal rules and regulations of the legal profession. (See *Chinwo v Owhonda (2008) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1074) 341, 36*.)
I rest my case, notwithstanding *I Muhammed Aliyu Muhammed also stand with the BODY OF BENCHERS*.
Muhammed Aliyu Muhammed writes from the Faculty Of Law, University Of Jos, Plateau State and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org