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  • News - North Central - FCT
  • Updated: May 04, 2024

Appeal Court declares pregnant unmarried policewomen dismissal as Illegal

Appeal Court declares pregnant unmarried policewomen dismiss

Regulations 126 and 127 of the Nigerian Police, which allow the dismissal of unmarried policewomen who fall pregnant while on duty, have been declared unlawful by the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

As a result, the court has ordered the Attorney General of the Federation, the Police Service Commission, and the Nigerian Police Force to thoroughly examine the complete set of Police Regulations in order to make sure that they adhere to the standards of a contemporary, law-abiding society.

The main judge, Justice Olubunmi Oyewole, was supported unanimously by Justices Bukola Banjoko and Okon Abang, the other members of the panel.

The Nigeria Bar Association's incorporated trustees sued the three defendants, and this ruling was issued in response.

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) filed an original summons contesting the discriminatory practices of the Nigerian Police Force on February 15, 2021, sparking the start of the legal conflict.

Allnews.ng gathered the appellants filed their case with the court to get a decision on several issues.

A central question was whether Sections 37 and 42 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) were violated by Regulation 127 of the Nigeria Police Regulations, which states that unmarried female police officers who become pregnant should be discharged from the force and can only be re-enlisted with the approval of the Inspector General of Police. 

Furthermore, the NBA sought that the court strike down Regulations 126 and 127 of the Nigeria Police Regulations, which are directly in violation of Sections 37 and 42 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Constitution, 1999 (as amended).

After reviewing the reasons submitted, Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja issued his decision on February 21, 2022, rejecting the appellant's suit for lack of merit.

Not pleased with the verdict, the appellant filed a Notice of Appeal on March 15, 2022, with six grounds, and petitioned the Court of Appeal.

In a unanimous verdict, the Court of Appeal granted the appeal, reversing the Federal High Court's decision in favour of the NBA.

The court held that Regulations 126 and 127 of the Police Act “interfere with the privacy of the lives of female police officers and discriminate against them based on their gender”.

Justice Oyewole said, “I do not agree with the learned trial Judge that the regulations in issue are necessary for morality and discipline in the Police Force as morality and discipline do not have a gender bias.

“It is unthinkable that the Nigerian Police of this day and age operates on the principle that female officers need to be specially moderated and regulated while their male counterparts are free. This is unacceptable in a decent and democratic society governed by the rule of law.

“The argument that prospective female police officers who cannot subsequently complain consented to the deprivation flies in the face of the constitutional provisions expressly granting them the rights involved as citizens of this country.

“The rights given go beyond those for the personal benefit of the individuals involved as could be waived by them. They are public rights which accord with the demands of a fair, equitable and humane society. These are standards and values demanded of modern nations and which are outside the purview of any individual to waive.

“I therefore hold that the said regulations 126 and 127 are inconsistent with the provisions of sections 37 and 42 of the Constitution and are therefore null and void to the extent of their inconsistency under section 1 (3) of the Constitution.

"The Respondents are advised to carry out a comprehensive review of the entire Police Regulations to ensure that they accord with the demands of a modern society operating under the rule of law.

“I accordingly resolve the two issues in favour of the Appellant and against the Respondents. This appeal is meritorious, and it is hereby allowed. Consequently, the decision of the lower court in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/178/2021, delivered on the 21st of February 2022, is hereby set aside.

“Instead, the questions for determination in the said Suit are answered in the affirmative while the reliefs sought therein are granted as prayed. Parties shall bear their respective costs."

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