Hijab ruling: ‘Olokun’ lawyer dumps religious attire, reverts to wig, gowll..Says ‘The spirit says I should go normal’
A Lagos lawyer Malcolm E. Omirhobo, who sparked controversy on June 23 by appearing at the Supreme Court in a lawyer’s wig, gown mixed with Olokun religious attire, has reverted to a normal barrister’s dress code.
Omirhobo appeared at the Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday morning in the full wig, gown, bip, black trousers and shoes.
He said “the spirit” asked him to ” go normal”, adding that he would revert to his religious garb again if it so directed.
Responding to journalists’ enquiries, Omirhobo said: “I’m led by the spirit to go normal today. Don’t be surprised if you see me the other way tomorrow…so, today is normal.”
As to whether “the spirit” was in conformity with the ethics of the legal profession and dress code, the lawyer laughed.
He said: “What ethics are you talking about? Are you insulting my religion? Don’t try it, don’t insult my religion…the constitution according to the Supreme Court says I should dress according to my religious attire and you are insulting the Supreme Court, behave yourself.
“And for those who have got cause against me, please come to my shrine.”
The human rights lawyer caused a scene on June 23 when he appeared at the Supreme Court in Abuja wearing his religious apparel.
Omirhobo, who arrived in 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 knee.
He also had a gourd tied around his neck with a red piece of cloth. He attached a feather to his wig.
Omirhobo claimed he was a traditionalist and argued that his decision was based on the Supreme Court’s judgement that ruled in favour of Muslim students wearing the hijab in Lagos schools.
The Supreme Court on June 17 in an appeal by Lagos State sanctioned the wearing of a head cover (hijab) in public schools by female Muslim students.
The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos Monday declined to hear Omirhobo because of his unusual attire.
Justice Tijani Ringim adjourned till October 10 for Omirhobo to address the court on whether the law and legal practice permit him to appear that way in court
Justice Ringim made the decision following Omirhobo’s bid to litigate two of his suits marked FHC/L/CS/929/2022 between Chief Malcolm Omirhobo) against the Federal Government of Nigeria and others, as well as suit FHC/L/CS/1392/2021 against the Nigeria Army and two others.
Omirhobo’s appearance was a replica of his June 23 attire before the Supreme Court in Abuja.
Like the Abuja episode, his appearance on the court premises in Lagos also caused a stir, with security officials stopping him at the gate.
They allowed him in after he identified himself as a lawyer and explained why he was so attired.
A crowd, comprising lawyers, litigants, court officials and journalists, gathered, videoing and taking his picture as he walked into the court.
But, when his case was called Omirhobo’s attempt to litigate his case before Justice Ringim was unsuccessful, with the judge querying his mode of appearance.
Omirhobo’s move appears to have emboldened other lawyers. On Tuesday, another lawyer, Dennis Ezekiel, appeared at the Federal High Court in Lagos wearing a rosary on his barrister’s attire.
He explained that he was exercising his right to religious freedom following the hijab ruling.
Mr. Ezekiel said: “My name is Dennis Ezekiel. I’m a Christian, a Catholic and I’m professing my religion by appearing like this in court. It is my right, enshrined in Section 38 of the Constitution and laid down, enunciated by the Supreme Court (in its) judgment (on hijab). So, we have that constitutional right to profess our religion without let or hindrance.