Acting Inspector General of Police (IG), Mohammed Abubakar
By Davidson Iriekpen and Yemi Akinsuyi
Acting Inspector General of Police (IG), Mohammed Abubakar, Wednesday lamented the impact of corruption on the welfare of officers and men in the force.
Similarly, a Federal High Court in Ikeja, Lagos, has declared as illegal and unconstitutional the provision of the Police Act that prohibits a woman police officer from marrying a man of her choice without the permission of the Commissioner of Police in the command where she is serving.
Abubakar, who said this in Abuja, during the inauguration ceremony of the Board of Directors of Police Savings and Loans Limited (Mortage Banker), said the fear of not having a personal house had driven many police personnel into corruption.
In his words: “The quest for the ownership of a house has been for a very long time, the bane of almost all police personnel both within and outside service. Many officers are distressed by the thought of retirement and even transfer for the fear of not having a permanent place of residence for themselves and their families.
“The worst are those who died in active service as their families are generally ejected from either rented or official abodes before the end of their mourning period.”
In his address, Chairman, Board of Director of the Mortgage Institution, Mr. Agboola Oshodi-Glover, promised to abide by the collective duties, obligations, roles and responsibilities of the institution.
Meanwhile, Justice Steven Adah, in his judgment had rejected the arguments of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice and held that Regulation 124 was illegal, null and void due to its inconsistency with Section 42 of the Constitution. The judge consequently declared the Regulation unconstitutional and proceeded to annul pursuant to Section 1(3) of the Constitution.
The suit was filed by the Women Empowerment and Legal Aid Initiative (WELA) challenging the constitutional validity of Regulation 124 made pursuant to the Police Act (Cap P19) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
The Regulation states that: “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.”
When the case came up for argument, counsel to WELA its Executive Director, Mrs. Funmi Falana, in her submissions, argued that it was illegal to ban a female police officer for three years before entering into a marriage and that seeking permission of a Police Commissioner was an infraction of her fundamental human right to dignity and freedom of choice.
She further 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.
Falana urged the court to expunge the Regulation from the Police Act as it was not reasonably justifiable in a democratic state like Nigeria which has 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).
In his reply the Attorney-General of the Federation through his counsel, Mr. B.R. Ashiru, maintained that the Regulation was designed to protect women police officers from falling into the hands of criminals.
He submitted that the purpose of the law was to prevent women police officers from marrying men of bad character.
He also defended the three-year ban on the ground that it was meant to ensure that a woman police officer was not pregnant “during the rigorous training she must undergo after her employment”.