Huriwa Asks Police To End Discrimination Against Women

Says Dismissal Of Pregnant Unmarried Police Operative Is Unconstitutional
By HURIWA
Listen to article

The prominent Civil Rights Advocacy group: - HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has carpeted the National Assembly for failing to expunge section 127 of the police Act which discriminates against women in the area of their relationship with the opposite sex.

HURIWA wonders why single ladies in police are by the provision of an extant legislation not allowed to become pregnant whereas policemen who are single but who go about putting girls in the family way by way of impregnating them are never sanctioned with outright dismissal.

The Rights groups reacted to the sacking of a female Police Corporal Olajide Omolola in Ekiti Command of the Nigeria Police Force for getting pregnant while being unmarried just as the Rights group said law makers at the National Assembly should cover their faces in shame for refusing to Jettison section 127 of the Police Act which offends section 42 (1) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution on discriminatory Policies.

The police, in a wireless message with reference number CJ:4161/EKS/IY/Vol.2/236, DTO:181330/01/2021, said Omolola was dismissed for getting pregnant while unmarried.

The signal originated from the Department of Finance and Administration in Ado Ekiti and was addressed to the Divisional Police Officer at Iye Ekiti, where Omolola was based.

The chief financial officer in Ekiti was asked to relay the information to the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System to ensure that her salary was stopped.

The document read, “Section 127 of the Police Act and Regulation against women police getting pregnant before marriage; W/PC (woman corporal) Olajide Omolola passed out of Police Training School on 24/04/2020 attached to yours, contravened above provisions.

“She stands dismissed from the Force. Dekit her. Retrieve police documents in her possession with immediate effect. O/C CFO Ekiti only. You are to relay signal to IPPIS Abuja for the stoppage of her salary with immediate effect.

“DECOMPOLS (Deputy Commissioners of Police)/ACPOLS (Assistant Commissioners of Police)/HODs/DPOs Ekiti State only. You are to lecture women police. Treat as very urgent.”

The Rights group said it was shocking that in the 21st Century Nigeria that law makers who are maintained at exorbitant costs to the public treasury, can not successfully amend the Police Act to be in compliance with global best practices just as the Rights group wondered why the National Assembly spent all the resources to amend the police Act last year but left sections that are inimical to Human Rights such as section 124 that was later struck out by a competent court of law but then section 127 was not amended and now constitute a cog in the wheel of progressive enforcement of fundamental human rights of police women in Nigeria. .

Huriwa recalled that Police Act Section 124 that was repealed by the court, not Section 127. Section 127 still stands. Section 124 spoke to the issue of women police taking permission from the commissioner before getting married. Section 127 says any police officer who is unmarried and eventually gets pregnant shall be disengaged from the Force. It is shocking that this discriminatory provision was left intact by the National Assembly when they frittered millions of Naira to amend the police act and regulation. It is totally unacceptable for the the police Service commission to claim that such a discriminatory provision should remain because in the warped imagination of the spokesman or whoever that spoke with the media within the hierarchy of the Police service commission PSC to say police is a regimented organisation and we have our rules and regulations which everyone must comply with.”

HURIWA said further: "Two years ago, it was reported that the Senate had commenced moves to put an end to discrimination against women in the Nigeria Police Force with Thursday’s consideration of the Police Act Amendment Bill, 2019. The piece of legislation before the National Assembly essentially sought to expunge the provisions of Regulations 122, 123, 124 and 127 from the principal Act. Sponsor of the bill, Senator Ezenwa Onyewuchi (PDP, Imo East) said the Act under amendment restricts female police officers assigned to general duties in the Police Force to telephone, clerical and office orderly duties. According to the lawmaker, the Act also prohibits women police from drilling under arms; mandates female police officers to apply for permission to marry, while the intending fiancé is investigated for criminal records. These provisions were eventually left intact in the amended version of 2020".

HURIWA recalled that the Senate had lamented that it amounted to prescribing discriminatory treatment - dismissal from service - for an unmarried police officer who becomes pregnant, the Act also stipulates that a police woman who is single at the time of enlistment must spend three years in service before applying for permission to marry. “An analysis of the Police Act and other regulatory/policy documents governing the internal and external workings of the Nigeria Police Force reveals a preponderance of discriminatory regulations and workplace practices that reinforce gender discrimination. “The examination of gender issues covers various spheres of policy and practice ranging from language, recruitment, training and posting; to marriage, pregnancy and child bearing. “Many of the Police regulations particularly Regulations 122, 123, 124 and 127 are overtly discriminatory to female officers,” Onyewuchi said.

HURIWA recalled that the sponsor of the bill that has yet to be passed stated that: "For instance, Regulation 127 in the Police Act states that “an unmarried woman police officer who becomes pregnant shall be discharged from the Force, and shall not be re-enlisted except with the approval of the Inspector-General.” According to Onyewuchi, such regulations of the Police Act were enacted in 1968, “at a time when the societal attitude to women in the workplace was very different from what it is today.” He added, “There is no rational justification for the imposition of these discriminatory provisions, since they do not in any manner promote the efficiency or discipline of the female police officer.” “Women occupy very senior roles in the Police and have shown themselves to be just as competent and disciplined as their male counterparts. “Since a male police officer is not subjected to the same inhibitions, the current regulations are inconsistent with section 42 of the Constitution and Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex".

The Rights group said that at the debate in the Senate, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia South), in his contribution to the debate, lamented the level of discrimination against women in the Police Force. He, therefore, called on his colleagues to support efforts by the upper chamber to amend the Act so as to give dignity to women police. The bill, which scaled second reading on the floor, was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Senate Committee on Police Affairs for further legislative work. So we're these discriminatory provisions still left in the amended version of Nigeria Police Act of 2020?"

HURIWA maintains that since that section 127 of the police Act offends Section 42(1) of the Nigerian Constitution which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, it therefore follows that it is null and void to the extent of its inconsistency with section 42(1) of the Nigerian Constitution. The Rights group said the Police should immediately reinstate the dismissed police female dismissed in Ekiti for getting pregnant while unmarried.