Barristers & Solicitors
Lawyer appears in strange attire at Supreme Court

Eric Ikhilae, AbujaA lawyer, Malcolm Omirhobo, caused a stir at the Supreme Court on Thursday when he appeared in a strange attire, forcing the Justices to abruptly suspend proceedings.

Omirhobo, who arrived the courtroom before the commencement of the day’s proceedings, was bare-footed. He tied a red wrapper atop his black trouser, which he rolled up to his kneel.

He also had a gourd tied around his neck with a red piece of cloth. He attached a feather to his wig.

The lawyer, who strolled into the courtroom a little over 9am, sat in a conspicuous part of the court where he was seen by many, including his fellow lawyers, who appeared taken aback by his appearance.

His appearance attracted a crowd of court workers, lawyers and other court users, who were all attracted by the unusual sight.

About five minutes after Omirhobo arrived the courtroom, the Justices entered, signalling the commencement of proceedings.

Omirhobo, who ignored entreaties by security officials, including police personnel, to vacate the courtroom, later exited the court on being satisfied that he has made a point.

He explained his action was informed by the court’s judgment last Friday in the appeal by Lagos State, in which the court sanctioned the wearing of head cover (hijab) to public schools by female Muslim students.

In a split decision of five to two, a seven-member panel of the Supreme Court (made up of five Muslims and two Christians) had in its majority judgment, dismissed the appeal by Lagos.

Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun (who incidentally is from Lagos State) wrote the lead judgment in the appeal marked: SC/910/2016. Justice Olukayode Ariwoola (who headed the panel) along with Justices Uwani Abba-Aji, Mohammed Lawal Garba and Tijani Abubakar agreed with the lead judgment.

Justice Emmanuel Agim wrote the lead minority decision, with which Justice Inyang Okoro agreed.

Explaining his action, Omirhobo said: “I am very grateful to the Supreme Court. Just last week Friday it made a very resounding decision that promotes Section 38 of the Constitution, that is, our right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; that we are free to express our way of worship in our schools and in our courts.

“That decision was reached on Friday and that has encouraged me, because I am a traditionalist and this is the way I worship.
“Based on the decision of the Supreme Court this is how I will be dressing henceforth in court, because I am a strong adherent to ‘Olokun’ – the god of rivers.”

Omirhobo added that the implication of the judgement was that every Nigerian, including doctors, police, military students and journalists could now wear their worship robes or regalia in public places.

The lawyer noted that opposed to the judgement, but is at peace with it, because it has strengthened and enriched the rights of all Nigerians, as enshrined in the Constitution.

Culled from The Nation