By Emmanuel Adeleke
An Oyo State High Court sitting in Ibadan has slammed N240,000 fine on University of Ibadan-owned International School Ibadan (ISI) for stalling a suit filed by female Muslim students of the school over the use of hijab.
Recall that 11 female Muslim students of the school and Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) had instituted the suit over the alleged refusal of the school to allow them wear hijab on their school uniform.
The applicants in the suit are Faridah Akerele, Aaliyah Dokpesi, Akhifah Dokpesi, Raheemah Akinlusi, Imam Akinoso, Hamdallah Olosunde, Aliyyah Adebayo, Moriddiyah Yekinni, Ikhlas Badiru, Mahmuda Babarinde, Fareedah Moshood and MURIC.
Respondents in the suit are the School Principal, Mrs Phebean Olowe; Chairman, Board of Governors, Prof. Abideen Aderinto; and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic), Dr Olalekan Jeremiah; Prof. Akintunde Olatunji, Lukman Ajibade, Mrs Oluwole Olubunmi,Tunde Aro and Fatumise Abey.
Justice Moshood Ishola had on March 27, adjourned the case till April 6 for hearing of the suit.
At Thursday’s proceedings, counsel for the 1st to 5th respondents, Dr Babatunde Ajibade (SAN), filed an application to substitute the name of the former Principal of the school, Mrs Phebean Olowe, with the new principal’s name, Mr Yinka Akintunde.
Ajibade informed the court that Olowe had retired from the school and it would be proper to remove her name from the suit and substitute it with the name of the new principal.
The senior advocate said that he does not want to delay the hearing of the suit and wanted it to be heard on merit.
Responding, counsel for the 1st to 11th applicants, Mr Hassan Fajimite, informed the court that he was not opposed to the application for substitution of the name.
Fajimite, however, told the court that counsel for the 1st to 5th respondents was aware of the retirement of Olowe since October 2022, adding that bringing the application for substitution now was to delay hearing of the suit.
He said the respondents’ counsel ought not to have waited until now before filing the application for substitution knowing that the case has been slated for hearing.
Counsel for the 12th applicant (MURIC), Mr Yusuf Anikulapo, aligned with the submission of Fajimite, adding that the respondents had caused unnecessary delay in hearing of the suit.
Anikulapo said that he was just served with the application for substitution in court and the application had stalled the hearing of the case as slated.
He urged the court to award a cost of N100,0000 against the 1st to 5th respondents.
Justice Ishola granted the application for substitution of the name of Olowe with Akintunde in the interest of fair hearing.
Ishola said that after considering the arguments of all the counsels, a cost of N20,000 is awarded against the 1st to 5th respondents in favour of each of the 12 applicants in the suit.
The judge subsequently adjourned hearing of the substantive suit till May 4.