Court Orders Police To Pay Dismissed Unmarried Female Officer N5m for damages

Unmarried female police officers in Nigeria, who wish to become pregnant for their lovers or would-be husbands, during courtship, are now free to do so without any fear of violating any police service law.

This is coming just as the National Industrial Court ordered the Nigeria Police Service to pay an unmarried female police officer, Olajide Omolola, who was unjustly dismissed for being pregnant outside wedlock, about five-million-naira for damages.

The Court struck down Regulation 127 of the Nigeria Police Regulation made pursuant to the Police Establishment Act 2020, which provides for the dismissal of any unmarried female police officer, who gets pregnant out of wedlock.

The female corporal, Olajide Omolola, who was attached to the Ekiti State Police Command, Oye, Ekiti, had in January 2021 been sacked for being pregnant out of wedlock.

The aggrieved corporal had challenged her dismissal on the ground that the police authorities had discriminated against her since her male counterparts are usually not dismissed in such circumstances.

However, in a landmark judgment delivered at the National Industrial Court, Akure Judicial Division 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 judge, 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 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 officers 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 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.”

The judge also awarded aggravated damages of 5-million-naira for the violation of Omolola’s fundamental rights 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, 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.

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.

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