January 11, 2023
The National Industrial Court has struck down a police regulation which provides for the sacking of an unmarried policewoman who gets pregnant.
Known as ‘Regulation 127 of the Nigeria Police Regulation made pursuant to the Police Establishment Act 2020,’ Justice D. K. Damulak on Wednesday held that it is illegal and discriminatory.
Miss Omolola Olajide of the Ekiti Police Command was dismissed on January 26, 2021 by Mohammed Adamu, former Inspector-General of Police, for getting pregnant barely a year after graduating from the police academy while being single.
SaharaReporters had reported how Babatunde Mobayo, the then state police commissioner in the state, justified the dismissal of Omolola, who was attached to the Iye Ekiti Police Station in the Ilejemeje area of the state.
Addressing journalists on the matter in Ado-Ekiti on January 28, 2021, Mobayo said the dismissed constable violated Section 127 of Police Act and Regulations.
However, Omolola challenged her dismissal on the ground that the police authorities discriminated against her since her male counterparts are not dismissed in similar circumstances.
In a judgment delivered at the Akure Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court on Wednesday, the presiding Judge, Justice D. K. Damulak held that the “police regulation which permits the dismissal of unmarried pregnant police women is discriminatory, illegal, null and void as it 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 the police regulation cannot stand as it is not applicable to unmarried policemen who impregnate women and consequently set it aside.
Damulak said that “the Court accordingly, 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.”
Justice Damulak further awarded N5 million in aggravated damages to Miss Olajide for the violation of her fundamental right to freedom from discrimination.
However, her prayer for reinstatement as a police officer was refused by the court as the Judge upheld the submission of the police counsel, Mr. P. S. Abisagbo to the effect that she could not be reinstated as she was on probation at the time of her dismissal from the Nigeria Police Force.
Justice Damulak relied on many judicial authorities and particularly the case of Women Enlightenment and Legal Aid v Attorney-General of the Federation where the Federal High Court struck down the police regulation that placed a 3-year ban on female recruits from contracting any form of marriage. The case was also handled by Mrs Funmi Falana of the Falana & Falana’s Chambers.
In her reaction to the judgment, Mrs Falana commended Justice Damulak for his contribution to the development of the nation’s human rights jurisprudence on gender equality in the country.
She however expressed the view that the court ought to have reinstated the policewoman, having quashed the illegal regulation upon which her dismissal was predicated.