There was drama at a magistrates’ court in Okpoko, Anambra State, as proceedings ended abruptly after a lawyer appeared in court dressed as a Christian cleric.
The court’s proceedings were running smoothly until a case was called for hearing, The PUNCH reports.
A lawyer, Ogbachalu Goshen, reportedly stepped out and announced himself as the defence’s counsel, dressed in priestly attire.
The magistrate, C.B. Mbaegbu, was said to have told Goshen he cannot appear in the courtroom dressed in an attire different from what the profession demands.
The lawyer objected, saying it was his right and that the objection by the magistrate was an infringement on his fundamental rights as enshrined in Section 38 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Mbaegbu was said to have declined to hear the lawyer’s case as the back and forth argument went on.
As the arguments continued with both the magistrate and the lawyer refusing to shift ground, Mbaegbu got up and left the coutroom, forcing proceedings to end abruptly.
Goshen justified his actions in an interview with newsmen after the court session, saying that the incident had already become a constitutional matter since the Supreme Court made such a ruling.
He said the court should also answer what will happen when a female Muslim lawyer enters the court in her hijab.
Goshen noted that he is an ordained pastor and should also be allowed to appear that way in court since the Supreme Court has decided.
Asked whether the ruling is in the best interest of the judiciary, he said for now, it remains a precedent that must be obeyed unless there is a judicial review.
A similar situation played out few days ago in Lagos when Justice Tijani Ringim, a Federal High Court judge, refused to hear the cases filed by Malcolm Omirhobo for appearing before the court dressed as a ”traditional priest.”
Omirhobo attributed his decision, which he said is his fundamental right, to the apex court’s ruling affirming the wearing of hijab in Lagos schools.
In October 2014, a Lagos high court ruled against the wearing of hijab in schools, a decision that was overturned by an appellate court in July 2016.
But in a judgment delivered in June, five out of a seven-member panel of the Supreme Court held that banning the use of hijab in Lagos schools was discriminatory.
The court’s judgement has elicited mixed reactions from Nigerians including lawyers.