When Marriage is Crime 

By Julius Oweh
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The marriage institution in all climes is revered and adored because it is at the core of human existence. The Glorious Koran and Holy Bible speak glowingly of the benefits of marriage and human beings are admonished to take the institution very seriously. In African society, marriage is seen as a sign of responsibility as unmarried adults are treated with social scorn and could not be given positions of responsibility. If a man or woman is able to accommodate the excesses of the spouse, such a person is given leadership roles in politics and business world.

But today the sacred institution is under severe attack by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. In a recent advertorial for employment, the agency said that only unmarried persons should apply for positions in the organization. This is as scandalous as outlandish. This is the position of EFCC on job recruitment :`Recruitment of Detective Assistants, Detective Inspectors and Detective Superintendents, which dated January 15, 2020, the EFCC stated that all the applicants must be single`. If the advertorial is true, then the EFCC is operating outside the provisions of the 1999 constitution. To say that marriage is hindrance to getting jobs in government departments is to pierce the fundamental rights of those affected and Nigerians of good conscience should condemn the act and work towards its abrogation.

Some Nigerians have spoken vehemently against the move as it goes against natural justice and labour law. The director-general of the Nigeria Employers` Consultative Association, an affiliate of the Nigeria Labour Congress , Timothy Olawale argued that it was clear contravention of the International Labour Organization’s conventions. Said Olawale :`The issue of inclusion is one of the problems we have in this country. We always find a way to exclude people. One of the principles of fair recruitment is fairness. What the EFCC has done is in contravention of ILO conventions. During recruitment, you don`t segregate any class. Even if you will apply some factors discretionally in the course of recruitment, you don`t make it public. What offence have married people committed? `

This is the question the acting chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu and his management team must answer. The EFCC is a common patrimony of all Nigerians and not a private firm. If Magu were running his private firm and decides to employ only bachelors and spinsters, nobody will question his decision. But here this agency belongs to all Nigerians and they are entitled to work there just as the present workers are doing without discrimination. This decision must not be allowed to stand.

True that Airlines operators insist that all air hostesses must be single and should be attractive and pleasant to the eyes of air travellers. Nobody will break his head over that. Similarly, some banks in the country operate anti-marriage policies. Married couples are not expected to work in the same bank branch and spinsters and bachelors who express desire to marry are advised that one of them must quit the job. Even more disturbing is the trend in some banks to give unmarried ladies targets to meet and by implication pushing them into prostitution. This is bad and this is what the organized labour should fight.

If the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC )is also embarking on recruitment of personnel and not talking about the marriage status of the applicants, there is no reason in the world why EFCC should embark on this infamous road. The Nigerian Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress should take up this fight and insist that the right thing should be done. Furthermore, the army of human rights lawyers in Nigeria should test the matter. Finally, President Muhammadu Buhari should call the acting chairman of EFCC to order and cancel this obnoxious policy. Marriage is a noble and time honoured institution and no government official not matter how highly placed should rubbish it. That is certainly how not to control population which I know is not one of the functions of EFCC. Buhari and the national assembly should call the leadership of EFCC to order. Marriage is neither crime nor corruption by any stretch of logic. Julius Oweh, a journalist, Asaba, Delta State.

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