The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to void the provision that policewomen who get pregnant out of wedlock should be fired.
It said some of the provisions of the Nigeria Police Regulations (NPR) conflict with the Constitution and discriminate against unmarried female police officers.
The NBA, in the suit numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/178/2021, argued that Regulations 126 and 127 of the NPR, made pursuant to the Police Act, conflict with sections 37 and 42 of the Constitution.
Defendants in the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the Police Service Commission (PSC) and the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
Regulation 126 provides that “a married woman police officer, who is pregnant, maybe granted maternal leave in accordance with the provisions of the general orders.”
Regulation 127 provides 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 of Police.”
Section 37 of the Constitution guarantees every Nigerian the right to private and family life, while Section 42 provides for the rights to freedom from discrimination.
The NBA argued that both provisions in the NPR do not only discriminate against unmarried female police officers, it has rendered many childless for fear of being sacked.
It cited the case of Omolola Olajide, a female police officer, who was sacked in Ekiti State on January 26, 2021 for being pregnant while unmarried.
It stated that “the male police officers and married female police officers in the Nigeria Police Force are not subjected to similar discrimination, sanction, opprobrium and indignity.
“There are many unmarried female police officers in the Nigeria Police Farce who, because of this discriminatory practice cannot have or allowed to have children because of fear of dismissal from the Police Force.
“Married female police officers are allowed to be pregnant and have children while still serving in the Police Force; they also enjoy maternity benefits.”
The plaintiff argued the alleged discriminatory practices persist despite the provision of the Constitution that forbids all forms of discriminatory practice against any Nigerian on any ground including grounds of sex and circumstances of birth.
It added that the Constitution equally forbids any person from being subjected to inhuman treatment and indignity.