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THIS oppressive regulation has been successfully challenged in the law court by a non-governmental organisation — Women Empowerment and Legal Aid Initiative — under the leadership of Mrs Funmi Falana. Justice Adah has declared the provision abridging the freedom of a female police officer to choose her male spouse without the permission of her boss as illegal, null and void because the obnoxious provision is inconsistent with Section 42 of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
THE full text of the offensive provision reads thus: “A woman police officer who is desirous of marrying must first apply in writing to the Commissioner of Police for the state command in which she is serving, requesting permission to marry and giving the name, address and occupation of the person she intends to marry. Permission will be granted for the marriage if the intended husband is of good character and the woman police officer has served in the force for a period of not less than three years.”
THE degrading wordings of the provision and the enormous power it confers on the police authorities to determine whether or not a female police officer would marry someone of her choice is a denigration of the dignity of the women folk. But thank goodness that Justice Adah and Falana and her NGO have helped to put paid to the detestable regulation.
THE intention of Regulation 124 of the Police Act might be patriotic and noble when the Act came into force, but it is patently dated and at variance with the dynamics of a modern society and even that of a police force in a civilised clime. The provision is not only repressive but it is also discriminatory because no such provision was made for such official interference in the choice of a policeman’s female partner.
In this era of gender equality advocacy and women empowerment locally and internationally, Regulation 124 of the Police Act has surely become archaic and only fit for the dustbin to which justice Adah has rightly consigned it.
WHILE the regulation was in force, the police authorities had no qualms usurping the role of the parents of their female officer and even that of the officer concerned because that is the implication if it must approve of the male spouse before the marriage can take place. That was wrong and it was demeaning and belittling of the female officer whose privacy must necessarily undergo the scrutiny of bureaucracy before a major decision of life that is largely personal was taken. Again, why would someone be banned for three years before marrying just because she is a woman working in a law enforcement agency that is a public sector organisation? This kind of demeaning law also encourages mean bosses to take advantage of female officers in whom in they are interested.
MARRIAGE and raising a family may constitute a distraction to a working class woman, but such interruption is necessary, minor and, good enough, transient. Human organisation, whether social or economic must learn to cope with this distraction without instituting despotic regulations that tend to vitiate the normal course of life for women.
WE commend Justice Adah’s judgment. The judgment should be obeyed. The police should not even contemplate exercising their right of appeal as doing so will amount to insisting on injustice and gender discrimination. All similar provisions in any other Act in places of work in Nigeria, whether in the public or private sector should be similarly expunged. Obnoxious and discriminatory regulations cannot have a place in a country that aspires to be modern and civilised.Share