-court thrashes regulation
The Nigeria Police Regulation, created in accordance with the Police Establishment Act 2020, which provides for the termination of an unmarried female police officer who becomes pregnant, was invalidated by the National Industrial Court on Wednesday.
According to the punch exclusive report in January 2021, Olajide Omolola, a female corporal with the Oye, Ekiti State Police Command, was fired for becoming pregnant outside of marriage.
Aggrieved by her sacking, Omolola challenged her dismissal on the ground that the police authorities had discriminated against her since her male counterparts are not dismissed in similar circumstances.
But in a landmark judgment delivered at the Akure Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court on Thursday, the presiding judge, Justice D. K. Damulak, held that the police regulation which permits the dismissal of unmarried pregnant policewomen was “discriminatory, illegal, null and void”
According to her, the regulation violates section 42 of the Constitution and article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Ratification and Enforcement Act which abolished discrimination on basis of gender.
The judge said that the police regulation cannot stand as it was not applicable to unmarried policemen who impregnate women and consequently set it aside.
Justice Damulak said, “The Court finds and holds that the provision of Section 127 of the Police Act and Regulation 127 thereof, which applies to unmarried women police officers getting pregnant while in service but does not apply to unmarried male police officers impregnating females while they are in service, are discriminatory against unmarried women police offices by Section 1(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 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 provisions of Regulation 127 and section 127 of the Police Act which is against women police officers getting pregnant before marriage but does not apply to male police officers impregnating women before marriage is discriminatory, illegal and unconstitutional 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.”
A further N5 million in aggravating damages was also given by the judge for the infringement of Omolola’s fundamental right to be free from discrimination.
However, the court rejected the terminated officer’s request for restoration as a police officer, upholding Mr. P.S. Abisagbo’s argument that she could not be reinstated because she was on probation when she was fired from the Nigeria Police Force.
Justice Damulak cited a number of legal precedents, including the Federal High Court’s decision in Women Enlightenment and Legal Aid v. Attorney-General of the Federation, which invalidated a police rule that forbade female recruits from entering into any type of marriage for three years.