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Hijabite lawyer: Let the court bail us out

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A colleague had asked me whether or not I would be contributing to the ongoing debate through my column on the Hijab crisis at the Nigerian Law School. Firdaus Amasa had refused to remove her hijab during the call to Bar of new wigs at the Nigerian Law School on December 13 and was thus denied the call to Bar, a precondition for her to be eligible to practice law.

I told him I am not interested for now but did not rule it out outright even though I am not usually keen on writing on religious issues. I chose this approach having realised that emotions rather than reasoning and sound judgement devoid of bias mostly determine people’s position on religious issues.

It is for this reason and out of respect for other people’s faiths that I never wrote a line when the debate was ongoing on social media on tithes. But I have observed over time that everybody becomes experts whenever Islam is involved with some commentators talking from an uninformed point of view or displaying complete ignorance in a matter they know nothing about.

Some have even taken a ludicrous position that Amasa’s defiance was emboldened because a Muslim is now the president. She has been vilified with a barrage of back-handed remarks and unsubstantiated claims just to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it.

She is being called “attention seeker”, a “religious bigot” among other disparaging names. I have also heard stories of how her parents and two former Chief Justices of Nigeria begged her. I have heard people talked about it as if they were at the convocation arena and actually saw how she “snubbed” her parents and the former CJN.

As far as some are concerned, this lady should be thrown under a fast moving bus for her obduracy. Although I have my reservations about the postulations of Karl Marx that religion is the opium of the masses, it is difficult to dismiss it in its entirety. His position that religion is the opium of the masses has some element of truth. From tithe debate to the Hijab matter, emotions ran high. Legal profession remains one of the most conservative professions in the world. And a lot of countries are moving away from the age-long conservative practices associated with the legal profession particularly those that have nothing to do with fundamentals in law.

As a rookie in year 2000 covering the judiciary, precisely the Lagos High Court, Igbosere, on Lagos Island, I witnessed a drama at the court of Justice Hoponu Wusu that bordered on dress code in the legal profession. A senior lawyer had appeared before the judge in an awkward suit, which did not conform with the colour of suits that lawyers are expected to put on when-ever they appear in court.

The colour of the lawyer’s suit was grey but the rule allows either black or deep blue. The lawyer was conversant with the rule but chose to wear the awkward colour. He had relied on his black gown to cover the suit. But the judge had seen the colour and asked him to stand up.

The judge did this in the middle of a matter that was ongoing. The lawyer seemed to have the premonition and had an idea why he was asked to stand up. Justice Wusu threw the bomb in his baritone voice, one of the reasons I frequently attended his court: “Mr. XYZ, what is the colour of your suit?” “Grey, my Lord!” the lawyer replied. “Is that the appropriate colour?” Justice Wusu asked. The lawyer admitted that he ran foul of the rule. He went ahead to tell the judge how his black suit was soaked by the rain, which fell overnight.

The judge refused to buy the lawyer’s feeble and flimsy excuse. He said he would have overlooked the infraction if the lawyer were to be a young wig who is less than five years at the Bar. The errant lawyer was more than 10 years at the Bar then. It was the day knew that a lawyer that is 10 years at the Bar is qualified to be a judge once he meets other requirements. Justice Wusu slammed him with N10,000 fine. Attempts by other senior lawyers to intervene and change his stand on the penalty were rebuffed by the judge. He dismissed in its entirety the allocution brought by some of the lawyers who intervened with a succinct and brief sentence that ‘law is what it is and not what it ought to be’.

This forms part of the rules set up by the Body of Benchers and the Council of Legal Education. Part of the rules also regulate attendance of the Nigerian Law School and the call to Bar ceremony at the end of training for aspiring lawyers as it concerns dress code for the call to Bar ceremony.

Concerning the dress code for the call to Bar ceremony, the rule states in part that Muslim ladies who may wish to wear Hijab should ensure that their faces, including their ears are not covered. “During the exercise, all your facial features including your ears must be exposed for capturing. This is also applicable to all our Muslim students wearing Hijab,” the rule states in part.

The law school seems to have taken into cognisance that some female students may want to wear Hijab based on their religious convictions and faith and thus makes provision for that. I have seen the photograph of Amasa and the bone of contention for me is that her Hijab covered her ears.

There is no way Hijab could be worn without covering the ears and there is a rule, which says the face and ears of the wearer must be shown. So, for the young lawyer the rule doesn’t take care of what she is expected to do as a Muslim who believes her opinion doesn’t count in a matter commanded by her creator as stated in the Glorious Quran.

This is just as my opinion will not count if a member of Jehovah’s Witness insists that he will not do blood transfusion even if that is the only alternative to save his life. The issue of dress code and controversies is not new. I remember that as a corps member at the camp in Issele Ukwu, Delta State, about 20 years ago, some female Christian corps members had on their own turned the khaki trousers provided by the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) into skirts after employing the service of a tailor. Their position was based on their conviction that females are not supposed to wear trousers.

They were entitled to a pair of trousers, which they had converted into skirts. It was later resolved after they had apologised and female corps members were advised to desist from such act. And in April, Mr. Andrew Kumapayi, a former sector commander of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Rivers State Command, had his fingers burnt while trying to enforce the dress code of the commission. He had paid particular attention to the hairstyles and nails of his female officers. Those whose hairstyles did not conform with the corps’ code had their long and fanciful hairstyles cut with a pair of scissors at the parade ground by the officer-turned barber.

The errant women appeared in their uniforms as if they were doing high street fashion and ready to do sashay on the runway. It was incontrovertible that the female officers erred for breaching the dress code but the pendulum of public opinion swung in their favour and Kumapayi, the hunter, became the hunted and was made a scapegoat. But this will not apply in the case of the hijabite lawyer just because some people have made up their minds to be biased. It is a misconception to assume that wearing of Hijab is a cultural thing. It is a religious duty and is not meant to enslave women as being deliberately misconstrued.

While I will not foist my religious belief on others, how do we resolve Section 38 of the Constitution, which emphasises right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion? I may not be learned enough to understand its interpretation but I have heard some learned men argue that based on the provision of the Constitution, Amasa ought to have been called to the Bar. Such lawyers were of the view that that section of the Constitution is superior to the law school dress code rule. Some others had disagreed that the argument won’t apply in this case.

However, I agreed with a part of Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Jiti Ogunye’s submission, that Amasa should have preempted the law school by approaching the court to stop the school from preventing her call to Bar if she passed having been prevented from the compulsory Bar dinner on account of her wearing Hijab. The going back and forth will be regarded as the dynamism in law by the learned men.

But for me and perhaps some ‘unlearned’ men, it is confusing. Since law is what it is and not what it ought to be, going to court is the best way to resolve the matter. And I think Amasa should explore this option.

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Perspectives

Temptation (Part 2)

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A part-time Christian cannot defeat a full time demon. Devil, the originator of temptation is going to and fro, looking for whom he may devour.
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1st Peter 5:8 NIV).

This is a 24/7 job. Unfortunately, the potential prey that the devil seeks, only seems to remember God on Sundays. As a matter of fact, many so-called Christians today only go to church on Sundays to respect the Sunday; not to respect the God of the Sunday. These are part-time Christians. There is no way such people can overcome temptation that comes from a full time smooth operator called Devil.
The devil uses human beings to operate his temptations. But why should I be this instrument of operation?

A prostitute (corporate, raw or classy) is looking for someone with whom fornication can be committed. Why should that person be me?
The devil wants to scatter a family with unnecessary quarrels, resulting from ego contest and pride. Why should my family be a victim?
Someone wants to seduce a married person to commit adultery. Why should I fall victim to such effort?

An innocent, ignorant, teenage virgin exposes her nakedness to a guy unconsciously and the devil begins to manipulate the guy, selling the idea of deflowering the girl. Why should this guy serve as the devil’s agent?
Your housemaid or wife’s sister is deliberately making efforts to seduce you into adultery. Why should you stand up to work for the devil instead of disorganizing his plans?

A person of the opposite sex is in trouble and needs your help. The devil says: “Take advantage of the person and have a carnal knowledge of the person.” Why should you yield to such destiny-destroying advice?
Don’t ever deliberately make yourself a source of temptation to someone. When you post a nude photo of your naked body or that of someone on the internet, you are a terrible enemy of God.
“Jesus said to his disciples: Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come” (Luke 17:1 NIV).

“And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck” (Mark 9:42 NIV)
“I urge you brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them” (Romans 16:17 NIV).
To overcome temptation therefore, “Pray without ceasing” (2nd Thessalonians 5:17).

Prayer may however, not yield any results if it comes from someone who enjoys sin. This is because the prayer of the sinner is an abomination unto God (Proverbs 28:9). You must “give no place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27).
Put God and holiness above every decision under pressure. If your fiancée says you cannot get married until you guys commit fornication, tell the person that holiness unto God is more important to you than the marriage.
Avoid avoidable danger zones. Do not mingle with prostitutes, drunks and hemp smokers and tell me you are being tempted. You are actually jumping into temptation intentionally to obtain a free visa to hell fire.
Avoid immoral utterances and conversations. Avoid immoral videos and telephone communications.

“Evil communication corrupts good manners” (1st Corinthians 15:33).
Don’t make jokes about sex with obviously ungodly people. Don’t even take them as best of friends. They will pollute your heart and push you into the river of sin through temptation.
Above all, you must allow Jesus Christ to take over your heart and possess it. It is his grace that can help you to overcome temptations.
Jesus said: “…without me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5)

“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord but out of a pure heart” (2nd Timothy 2:22 NIV).
Are you going through spiritual temptation? Maybe you attend church or mosque regularly. Yet, your dream life is in crisis. In fact, you hardly sleep because of spiritual attacks. You even suspect your spouse because of the role your spouse played in the dream as someone that is after your life and peace. Has your child or spouse suddenly begun to exhibit some totally strange behaviour such as canvassing or communicating with invisible people? These are forms of spiritual attack, and deliverance is possible.

Does your family suddenly record a bad news shortly after a positive miracle like wedding, safe child delivery, exam success, etc? Have you suddenly developed hatred for a member of your family for no just cause and even has the urge to harm the person? Do you sometimes have the urge to spiritually manipulate and kill someone or even yourself? This is the spirit of death. It has been sent by the devil to destroy you.

The first step towards deliverance from these and many other spiritual temptations is to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and personal saviour. Then, you can enjoy authority over Satan, who Jesus has already conquered on the cross of Calvary. You can enjoy the benefits of the authority Jesus gave in Luke 10:19 “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Until you yield totally to Jesus, this scripture will remain mere text to you.
Do you think you have a spirit husband or wife? See possible solutions in the book, MAKING YOUR MARRIAGE WORK by Albinus Chiedu. Your marriage shall be a miracle and a testimony in Jesus name! Amen!.

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Perspectives

Can an ANC scenario ever occur in Nigeria?

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On Wednesday a momentous event happened in the nascent democracy in South Africa when her president, Mr. Jacob Zuma was ousted from the Union Buildings in Pretoria, not because the opposition won the popular vote in an election, but because his own party – the African National Congress (ANC) decided it was time for him to go.

Founded on January 9, 1912 in Bloemfontein as the South African Native National Congress, ANC’s primary mission was to give voting rights to black and mixed race Africans and from the 1940s, it added the mission to end Apartheid. The party was finally fed up with the antics of the its leader who had been repeatedly dogged by allegations of corruption, allowing the wealthy, Indian-born Gupta family secure juicy contracts leaving with the African continent’s most industrialised economy in dire straits.
Incidentally, what happened to Zuma during the week was reminiscent of how he in 2007 engineered the exit of Thabo Mbeki, the man who took over from the highly revered Nelson Mandela, who only served one term after the ANC won the first multi-party election at the end of Apartheid in 1994.

The very suave and elitist Mbeki was not really a grassroots politician, but was favoured by Mandela to succeed him. And it was his lack of grassroots support that Zuma capitalised on to supplant him as party leader in 2007.
But it appears that Zuma, a former member of the ANC’s military wing in the days of apartheid, who had led the country for more than a third of its time after Apartheid, was just unable to remove himself from his grassroots upbringing to becoming a proper statesman which finally caught up with him during the week.

Initially, the 75-year-old was very reluctant to bow to the supremacy of the party, insisting that he would only bow out on his own terms in “three to six months,” despite the fact that the ANC had hinted that he should go immediately so as to end the saga which was adversely affecting the party.

Before Zuma finally threw in the towel on Wednesday, his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa had since replaced him as party leader on December 18 last year in a clear sign that the party was fed up with him.
The ANC National Executive Committee had met over the weekend and deliberated on how to handle Zuma’s ouster. It then announced its decision to recall Zuma on Tuesday and gave him until the end of Wednesday to resign.

In keeping the heat on their embattled President, the ANC Chief Whip, Jackson Mthembu then announced a parliamentary motion of no-confidence for Thursday, with Ramaphosa sworn in as President as soon as possible after that.
It was after the ANC National Executive Committee meeting that Ramaphosa then drove to the President’s house to formally tell him that the party wanted him to resign.
Apparently Zuma finally saw the writing on the wall and late on Wednesday he eventually brought his long rule to an end when he told the rainbow nation: “No life should be lost in my name and also the ANC should never be divided in my name. I have therefore come to the decision to resign as President of the Republic with immediate effect.”

However, even though he agreed to step down he still insisted that he was not in agreement with the position of his party.
“Even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organisation, I have always been a disciplined member of the ANC. As I leave I will continue to serve the people of South Africa as well as the ANC, the organisation I have served… all of my life.”
Again showing the maturity of the South Africans when it comes to politics, the party that engineered his ouster rather than gloat was still very magnanimous in victory saying: “Mr Zuma’s resignation provided certainty to the people of South Africa”.
ANC Deputy Secretary General, Jessie Duarte told reporters: “President Zuma remains a principled member of the ANC. The ANC wants to salute the outstanding contribution he has made.”

In reality the events that lead to Zuma’s ouster had actually begun after the 2016 municipal elections when the ANC not only saw its share of the votes alarmingly dip by 6.2% obtaining 53.91 per cent of the votes nationally, a fall from the 62.93 per cent achieved in 2011, but more worryingly the ANC losing its outright majority in four of the country’s eight metropolitan municipalities for the first time since 1994.

It was clear to the party that it was the unpopularity of their flag bearer, Zuma that had affected them adversely and prompted them to act before the next national election in 2019.
Sadly such a scenario is unlikely to happen here in Nigeria. I cannot see a party going against its own executive in the interest of the masses that voted them into power to improve their lot.
Our history is littered with instances of party leaders (in name only) being ousted at the whims and caprices of the President, who is supposed to be a party loyalist.

For instance one recalls what happened to the current Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, who when he was Chairman of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) criticised then President Olusegun Obasanjo over his handling of the crisis in Anambra State, when a sitting governor, Dr. Chris Nigige was ‘kidnapped’ and nothing was done to the abductors because they were allegedly close to the President.

Of course we all know what then happened to him – he was unceremoniously sacked in 2005, four years after replacing Chief Barnabas Gemade, because he had the temerity to dare the president.
In fact we have had so many party chairmen that it’s virtually impossible to remember all of them.

Who in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has the liver to tell President Muhammadu Buhari what the people actually think of him and his government, which promised so much but has failed to deliver on many of those promises?
The reality is that any other party in the same position as the APC would also do the same thing with the party leaders preferring to hold on to their offices rather than tell their elected officials the gospel truth.
It is this “paddy paddy” approach to things that means millions of Nigerians can only dream of having an ANC scenario play out in the so-called “Giant of Africa” whether the government is delivering or not!

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Perspectives

Captain Hosa: The marks of a marathoner

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By mere counting of the fingertips,‘ Captain Hosa’, as he is fondly called by all and sundry, is unarguably one of the very few Nigerians, who have contributed mostly to the overall development of the country and its people, particularly of Edo, his home-state. Behold, he was an accomplished commercial flight captain and now a multi-corporate billionaire, with unusual disposition to caregiving and public spiritedness.

A creative mind with diverse useful parts, he is a keen curator, cultural enthusiast, pan-Africanist and a great inspirer of the young and the old. He is a household name. Therefore, it would not be mistaken that as a mark of recognition for his benevolence to the human cause, the enriching tower of learning, the University of Benin, Benin City, has again singled him out for honour, in a public symposium dedicated to his 60th Birthday Celebration. Holding in the institution and assembling all manners of people from the various backgrounds, it is titled “Youth Migration: Consequences and General Realities.

Some years ago, the same educational institution awarded him a meritorious honorary doctorate degree. Born as Idahosa Wells Okunbo, to Pa Robert Amos Okunbo, a clergyman, teacher, writer and community leader from the Benin kingdom,Idahosa owns his huge successes in life to the discipline he received from his late father, and mother, who is still alive. Aise agbon ri oba odowa n’ okhua ake rie rhe (meaning in Benin that king is not made on earth than he is so ordained from the great beyond). Aptly to the sequential Edo astral narratives and nomenclatural requisite, “Idahosa”, a name Captain Hosa was given at birth means “heeding to God’s voice personal destiny”.

In Edo tradition, it is mostly a case of “Tell me your name and I would tell you whom you are”. Remarkably, there are two great men and indigenes of Edo, the ‘Heartbeat State’ of the Nigerian nation, who answers‘Idahosa’, amascot of a name. There was Arch Bishop Benson Idahosa, a fiery clergy plenipotentiary, who, from his pioneering Church of God Mission, located in Benin City, the state capital, amazingly throttled the velocity of Pentecostalism and televangelism movements from Africa, to inspire Christianity, the world over. Also trendy is‘Idahosa’ Okunbo, a very resourcefulbusinessman and caregiver, who is a cheerful caregiver and endearing champion of the rich and the poor, across the globe.

Nonetheless, ‘Idahosa’is first name to the latter, whilst it was a surname to the former. In recognition of his tireless efforts in contributing to the wellbeing of his Edo society, in particular, the revered Oba (first monarch) of Benin, Ewuare II, often eulogizes the efforts of Captain Hosa, at that.

And since his coronation as the 40th Oba of Benin, about a year ago, the debonair former pilot and community leader has left no person in doubt that he is one of the few, who have fully joined the bandwagon of the Oba, to reinvent the Benin and Edo people, even beyond the enviable worldwide placement, which the unique reign of Oba Ewuare I, the Great (Ogidigan) experienced.

Agha ze ode ba ode, ode nede a yae gualo (when foraging for new ways, old ways should not be abandoned) Like Oba Ewuare I of the epic past of the Benin kingdom and empire, the present Oba is already combining native intelligence with his thorough training, erudite and worldwide exposures. Of course, His Royal Majesty, Oba Ewuare II, is a well-trained economist and administrator of the flawless Brit-ish and American schooling and tradition, who is also a humanist and an accomplished diplomat.

After a brief and momentous work with the United Nations, he variously served as Nigeria’s Ambassador to Angola and Sweden; Norway, Denmark and Finland; Italy, Albania and others. Still dwelling on the cosmic naturalism of the Edo people, the inestimable contributions to society and philanthropy of Idahosa Okunbo was alwaysrecognized by the immediate past Oba of Benin. It was no wonder, therefore thatthe great monarch gave him an uncommon honour ‘with the divinely Benin coral beads’ (called “ivie’ in Edo language). Remarkably, that Captain Hosa’s daughter and first child had for long been named “Ivie” at birth, somewhat foretold this great honour divinely lined for him, many years ahead.

Likewise, “Ivie” his beloved daughter got wedded into the famous Olu of Warri’sclassic royalty, throughsome momentous and colourful ceremonies that attracted the world.Out of the lot of the mind’s revoir, the wise and well-meaning leaders would only speak scantily, for the discerning minds to interpret.

Naturally, Captain Hosa, in spite of his enormous wealth and fame, is such an unassuming and quiet personality, who chose to be anonymous and so could get lost in the crowd. He is a striking personality who selects his words, which are really few. In one of his rare moments of passive and induced interviews with the press (he is media shy), said so thus in very few words; “People say that I have conquered the air and the sea and just conquering the land…”.

This is only apt and a symbolic reference to the diverse areas of robust flight career and business venturesover which he is generally acknowledged as having been immensely successful. His closed nurturing to be honest, humble and to aim to the sky, also found fulfillment when at a record mere age of 21 years of age, he initially graduated from aviation school.

He immediately improved further and started a successful career of a commercial pilot, flying higher altitudes. Having flown over a log 7,000 hours, most of which were at jet times, Captain Hosa has this time around cashed in on his higher flight altitudes to attain more heights in the hemisphere of corporate, social and political leadership.

In the entrepreneurial world, he is like the goldfish that has no hidden place, just as his creativity and successes earn him the apt sobriquet of the “Man with the Midas touch’. Despite his ever expanding business empire, with many subsidiaries, Captain Hosa is still relentless expanding on the limits. With many businesses he has established and several others in which he is a joint-owner, in his home-state of Edo, Nigeria and outside the country, he has truly dominated the air, sea and landed businesses.

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