NBA Loses Case To Void Unmarried Female Police Not Getting Pregnant

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The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, on Monday at an Abuja High Court, lost its prayer for a declaration that the provision of the Nigeria Police Act which states that unmarried female police officers cannot get pregnant, is illegal.

Delivering judgement, Justice Inyang Ekwo of an Abuja Federal High Court said:

“Where a law or regulation of an establishment identifies gender attributes or faults and seeks to regulate the vulnerabilities capable of negatively affecting the progress of such gender, such law or regulation is a warning aforehand and cannot be said to be discriminatory.

“In my opinion, the essence of this suit is to use the provision of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, to lower the moral and professional standard of the NPF and this court will not give its imprimatur to such venture.

“It is my finding that in all that the plaintiff has posited, it has not pointed to any aspect of the regulation complained of, which violates the interest of public order or public morality, which will make it reasonably justifiable to invalidate Regulation 127 of the NPFR and I so hold.

“I find that there was no basis for this action in the first place. An unmarried woman who intends to get pregnant is not compelled to join the police force.

“Where such a woman becomes a police officer, she is bound by the regulation on pregnancy while being unmarried.

“I am unable to see any of the fundamental human rights provided in Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, expressly or latently meant to shield an unmarried woman police officer who becomes pregnant from being discharged from the force.

“I find that the regulation in issue, in this case, is about conduct and nothing more. I find no compelling reason for this court to disrupt the discipline of the force or interfere in the regulation of the conduct of officers of the NPF, whether male or female.

“Any person who joins the force must abide by the regulation of the force or not join the force as there is no compulsion about its membership.

“It is my opinion that Regulation 127 of the NPFR is to be seen as a code of conduct for an unmarried woman police officer and to forewarn such officer on the consequence of becoming pregnant while being unmarried in the force.

“However, the regulation provides for a remedy after such officer has been discharged from the force, by stating that such officer can be relisted with the approval of the IGP.

“The argument that this provision is discriminatory because it does not apply to male officers, in my opinion, goes beyond the bounds of reasonableness and tilts seriously towards the absurd.”

The NBA had argued that the provision of the Nigeria Police Force Regulations, NPFR, that states that unmarried female police officers cannot get pregnant ran counter to the 1999 Constitution (as amended), adding that there were many unmarried female police officers in the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, who could not have or be allowed to have children because of the provision, which it described as discriminatory.

Section 127 of the NPFR 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”.

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