Unmarried Police officers cannot get pregnant, Court rules

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A federal high court in Abuja has dismissed a suit filed by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) seeking to have some articles of the Nigeria Police Force Regulations (NPFR) invalidated, including those prohibiting unmarried female police personnel from becoming pregnant.

Nigerian Police
Nigerian Police

The Nigerian Bar Association had petitioned the court to challenge the constitutionality of NPFR regulation 127, claiming that it violates the 1999 constitution and discriminates against unmarried female police officers.

The regulation 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”.

NBA cited the case of Omolola Olajide, a female police officer in Ekiti state who was sacked on January 26, 2021 for being pregnant while unmarried, as an example of how discriminatory regulations have kept many female officers barren for fear of being fired.

The male police officers and married female police officers in the Nigeria Police Force are not subjected to similar discrimination, sanction, opprobrium and indignity,” the association said.

“There are many unmarried female police officers in the NPF who, because of this discriminatory practice, cannot have or be 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 AGF said the plaintiff (NBA) ought to approach the national assembly for an amendment if it was not comfortable with the provision.

“Fundamental human rights, as guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria (as amended), are not absolute,” the AGF submitted.

“The Nigeria Police Act and Regulations are special creations of law. The Nigeria Police Act and Regulations provide the framework for the police force in maintaining peace, combating crime, protecting liberties, life and property and other related matters.

“Lawful discrimination permits an action undertaken based on the irreversible needs of a person or the society at large. The work of law enforcement and policing is one that demands emotional stability and physical agility.

“Effective law enforcement requires the performance of essential functions which are strongly contingent upon a high level of physical fitness. Environmental conditions of policing and law enforcement can create potential conflicts between police duties and pregnancy.”

Delivering judgment on Monday, Inyang Ekwo, the judge, agreed with the AGF’s submission.

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