Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Ekiti State Police Command has defended the dismissal of a pregnant Police Constable, Miss Olajide Omolola, “in alleged flagrant violation of the Police Rules and Regulation.”
This is coming as the Women Empowerment and Legal Aid (WELA) led by Mrs. Funmi Falana, wife of human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana, has rejected the position of the police authorities, insisting that it is discriminatory and unjust to dismiss a police woman for getting pregnant before marriage.
In a statement issued yesterday, Falana argued that Section 127 of the Police Regulation which discriminates against police women is illegal and unconstitutional.
She noted that policemen who impregnate women before marriage are allowed to remain in the Nigeria Police Force.
“Finally, as it is indisputable that Corporal Omotola is entitled to freedom from discrimination guaranteed by Section 42 of the Constitution and Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights we request you to use your good offices to order her reinstatement not later than January 31, 2021.
“Take notice that if our request is not granted we shall challenge the dismissal of Mrs. Omotola at the National Industrial Court and pray for the annulment of Regulation 127 made pursuant to the Police Act, 2020,” the statement added.
Omolola, who was attached to the Iye Ekiti Police Station in Ilejemeje area of the state, was dismissed last week by the police authorities, for being pregnant barely a year after graduating from the police academy.
Speaking with journalists in Ado Ekiti yesterday, the state Police Commissioner, Mr. Babatunde Mobayo, said Omolola violated Section 127 of the police regulation, which carries serious punitive measures against flouters.
Mobayo stated that the rule and regulation was unambiguous that a woman police must undergo post-training experience on the field for at least two years before marriage and three years before childbearing.
The commissioner said: “In the police organisation, we have rules and regulations, which are being carried out within the ambit of the constitution. Police officers are not even allowed to keep their children that are above 18 years of age in the barracks. Some of these laws were taught in the Police Colleges before we graduated.
“These laws have been there. Some stipulated the number of years you must spend before you get married. If you are in a police college, you are not supposed to get pregnant. When you passed out, you still need basic training, and for your attention not to be distracted, you must spend certain minimum of period before you get married in order to perform efficiently.
“The lady in question passed out in May 2020, which is eight months ago, and now she is six-month pregnancy. The Police Act 2020, which is undergoing amendment in the Senate, has not repealed that. She had contravened Section 127 of the police regulation.
“Section 126 of the regulation states that a married woman police, who is pregnant may be granted maternity leave, while Section 127 states that an unmarried woman police who becomes pregnant shall be discharged from the Force and shall not be enlisted except with the approval of the Inspector General of Police (IG).
“What some people talked about that her fundamental human rights had been trampled upon and that women should not be discriminated against while also saying the law has been repealed were not true. The regulation is still in place.”
Contrary to the widespread belief that the regulation has been expunged, Mobayo maintained that the Police Amendment Bill 2019, which was brought and sponsored by Senator Uzenwa Onyebuchi in the Senate, has not been passed, saying it has only gotten to the second reading.
“The amendment, being sought, has not been done neither had the bill gotten the presidential assent. It has just been referred to the Senate Committee on Police Affairs for further scrutiny. Aside the foregoing, the amended Police Act is different from police regulation,” Mobayo clarified.
Speaking further, the state police commissioner stated that he had been a commandant in one of the police colleges in the country before becoming a commissioner, saying he handled several cases akin to this, with victims dismissed, having flouted the law, as he added that this could not have been treated as an exemption.
“However, I felt for the lady, even though I have never met her before. We saw the medical report, and we did due diligence on her case.
“We can’t shy away from the oath of office we took, but the IG can still reverse whatever we do on the field,” he stated.