Reps. consider Bill to permit Muslim female military officers to wear hijab

…Moves to criminalise ballot-box snatching, destruction of electoral materials, others

A Bill seeking to compel the Armed Forces and para-military organisations to permit Muslim female officers to wear the Islamic veil, commonly known as hijab, is currently under deliberations by the House of Representatives.

The Bill, known as the Religious Discrimination (Prohibition, Prevention) Bill, 2020, which has passed second reading at the House, is being sponsored by the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Finance and Member representing Bida/Gbako/Katcha Federal constituency, Sa’idu Abdullahi.

Article 13 of the Bill, titled: ‘Discrimination in employment insecurity and other sectors‘, prohibits the military from discriminating against anyone wearing a hijab.

Although the Bill does not propose any fine or jail time for persons who discriminate against persons wearing hijab, it states that anyone who contravenes the section would have committed an offense.

It further states that the High Court will have original jurisdiction on such matters, while the National Human Rights Commission shall have the power, either on its motion or upon a petition presented by an aggrieved person, to investigate allegations of any violation of the provisions of the Bill within a reasonable time or not more than 30 days.

A hijab is a veil worn by Muslim women and has been a controversial issue in Nigeria. 

Recall that recently in Kwara State, a crisis erupted in the education section when authorities of missionary schools in the state opposed a court injunction permitting Muslim students to wear hijab to school.

Similarly, the House, on resumption from the Easter recess, is expected to commence debate on the general principle of a bill that seeks to establish an Election Criminal Tribunal in the country.

The Bill, which was sponsored by Hon Abubakar Makki Yalleman, when established, will be saddled with the responsibility of handling Election Criminal cases and judiciously dispose-off same while punishing offenders properly.

According to the proponent of the legislation, the Bill provides that “Voter fraud and voter registration fraud including the impersonation of either a living or dead person; Ballot box snatching and destruction or attempted destruction of electoral materials; attempting to or Preventing or hindering of Electoral Officers from performing their duties; falsification of Electoral Results; Unauthorized possession of Electoral Materials; and All the offenses listed in Part VII, Section 117 -132 of the Electoral Act.”

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