A bill tagged ‘Religious Discrimination (Prohibition, Prevention) Bill, 2020’ currently before the House of Representatives seeking to permit female officers in the military and para-military to wear hijab has passed its second reading.
The bill sponsored by the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Finance and Member representing Bida/Gbako/Katcha Federal Constituency, Saidu Abdullahi, is seeking to compel the Armed Forces and paramilitary organisations to permit female officers to wear Islamic veil, popularly known as hijab.
Article 13 of the bill titled, ‘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.
The bill did not propose any fine or jail time for persons who discriminate against persons using hijab, but maintained that anyone who contravenes the section would have committed an offence.
It further stated that the High Court will have original jurisdiction on such matters while National Human Rights Commission shall 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 provision of the Bill within a reasonable time or not more than 30 days.