The National Industrial Court on Wednesday struck down Regulation 127 of the Nigeria Police Regulation made pursuant to the Police Establishment Act 2020 which provides for the sack of an unmarried woman police officer who gets pregnant.
A female corporal, Olajide Omolola, who works in Oye, Ekiti State Police Command, was sacked for getting pregnant outside wedlock.
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 Wednesday, 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.”
Meanwhile, the judge also awarded aggravated damages of N5 million for the violation of Omolola’s fundamental right to freedom from discrimination.
However, the sacked officer’s 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 three-year ban on female recruits from contracting any form of marriage.