Court declares police regulation on unmarried pregnant female officers discriminatory, illegal

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The National Industrial Court sitting in Akure, the Ondo State capital, has struck out the regulation of the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, prohibiting unmarried female personnel from getting pregnant for being inconsistent with Section 42 of the 1999 Nigeria Constitution (as amended) and Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights which abolishes discrimination based on gender.

 

In a landmark judgment delivered on Wednesday, Justice Dashe Damulak also held that the claimant, Miss Omolola Olajide, has a right to challenge the constitutionality of Section 127 of the Police Act and Regulation 127 thereof.

 

Recall that Miss Olajide of the Ekiti State Police Command was dismissed on the 26th of January 2021 by the former Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, for getting pregnant while single.

 

She proceeded to court through her lawyer, Funmi Falana, to challenge her dismissal on the grounds that the police authorities had discriminated against her since her male counterparts were not dismissed in similar circumstances.

 

Olajide, in the suit filed, listed the Inspector General of Police, the Police Service Commission and the NPF as defendants.

 

In a 14-page judgment delivered, the Justice held that “the Court accordingly, find and holds that the provision of Section 127 of the Police Act and Regulation 127 thereof, which applies to unmarried police women getting pregnant while in service but does not apply to unmarried policemen impregnating females while they are in the same service, are discriminatory against unmarried women officers by Section 1(3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, if any law is inconsistent with the provision of this Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail, and that other law shall to the extent of its inconsistency be void.

 

“For the avoidance of doubt, the case of the Claimant succeeds in part only in terms of prayer B, which is a Declaration that the provision of Regulation 127 and section 127 of the Police Act, which is against unmarried females police officers getting pregnant before marriage but does not apply to males police officers impregnating women before marriage is discriminatory, unconstitutional and illegal as it violates the Claimant’s Fundamental Right under Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. And the said provision is hereby declared null and void and struck down.”

 

The court, however, refused Olajide’s application to be reinstated.

 

The court also agreed with the police counsel, Tolu Abisagbo, that Olajide was employed on probation at the time of her dismissal, and she could, therefore, not be reinstated.

 

The Judge held that “as a probationary staff, Olajide is not yet clothed with the garb of statutory protection. So for being wrongfully denied a lifetime opportunity of serving in the Police Force and cannot be reinstated, she is entitled to aggravate and punitive damages assessed at N5 million.”

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