Bill to permit hijab wearing in military, para-military organisations underway

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The house of representatives has proposed a bill seeking to compel the armed forces and para-military organisations to permit female officers to wear the Islamic veil popularly called hijab.

Christened ‘Religious Discrimination (Prohibition, Prevention) Bill, 2020’ the legislation which has passed second reading is sponsored by the deputy chairman of the house committee on finance and member representing Bida/Gbako/Katcha federal constituency, Mr. Saidu Abdullahi.

Article 13 of the bill entitled ‘Discrimination in employment in security and other sectors,’ prohibits the military from discriminating against anyone wearing a hijab.

Article 13(2) reads: “Any person employed in the security sector, whether within the military or paramilitary or otherwise, shall not be discriminated against on the ground of the exercise of his right to manifestation of his religion in worship, teaching, practice and observance  such as wearing religious emblem, head cover, or hijab in concomitant with the common uniform code or code of conduct in relation to the choice of colour, type, or design of such religious emblem, religious head cover or 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 offence.

It further states that the High Court will have original jurisdiction on such matters while the National Human Rights Commission (NURC) will have the power either on its own 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.

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