The provision of the Police Act, which prohibits a female officer from marrying a man of her choice without the permission of the Commissioner of Police in the command where she is serving, has been declared illegal and unconstitutional by a Federal High Court in Ikeja, Lagos.
Trial judge, Justice Steven Adah, rejected the arguments of the Attorney-General of the Federation and held that Regulation 124 was illegal, null and void due to its inconsistency with Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution.
The court declared the Regulation unconstitutional and proceeded to annul pursuant to Section 1(3) of the Constitution.
Women Empowerment and Legal Aid Initiative, WELA, had brought the suit, challenging the constitutional validity of the said Regulation 124.
The said Regulation states: “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 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.”
WELA counsel had arguing that it was illegal to ban a woman police officer for three years before entering into a marriage and that seeking permission of a Police Commissioner was an infraction of her fundamental right to dignity and freedom of choice.
The group had contended that since a male police officer was not subjected to the same inhibitions, Regulation 124 was inconsistent with section 42 of the constitution and Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex.
The group had asked the court to expunge the said Regulation from the Police Act, as it was not justifiable in a democratic state such as Nigeria, which had domesticated the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, CEDAW..
Attorney-General of the Federation, through his counsel, had contended that the said regulation was designed to protect women police officers from falling into the hands of criminals, adding that the purpose of the law was to prevent women police officers from marrying men of bad character.
The AGF further contended that the three-year ban was meant to ensure that a woman police officer was not pregnant “during the rigorous training she must undergo after her employment.”