Corporal Omolola Olajide

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Similarly, I was shocked that the level of gender discrimination in Nigeria is still so high. The story of the dismissal of Corporal Omolola Olajide from the Nigeria Police Force, broke a few days ago. She was dismissed because she’s unmarried contrary to Section 127 of the Police Act, and got pregnant less than a year after she joined the Police! The action of the Police, is highly condemnable, to say the least. When did the Nigeria Police Force become a moral compass? Section 4 of the Police Act which outlines the general duties of the Police, does not include being a bastion of morality as one of them!

The outdated Police Act 1943/1968 (PA), should have been replaced eons ago with its discriminatory provisions contained therein. For example, most of the provisions in Sections 121-128 of the PA are inconsistent with Section 42(1) of the Constitution, which, inter alia, prohibits discrimination on the basis of a person’s gender, and are obviously null and void, and of no effect (Section 1(3) of the Constitution). Why must a Policewoman only be deployed to clerical type duties (Section 122 PA)? Why must a Policewoman have had to serve for three years prior, and then have to seek permission from the Commissioner of Police (COP) who will determine whether her suitor is acceptable, before she is allowed to marry (Section 124 PA)? These provisions have discouraged many women from joining the Police; and they constitute some of the most ridiculous provisions in a law, that I have ever seen. Do Policemen not impregnate ladies all over the place? Are they dismissed from the Force for so doing? Are Policemen also mandated to seek the permission of the COP before they get married? NO. In fact, there was an Inspector General of Police (IG) who was famous for being a Romeo and Lover Boy, publicly known for having numerous dalliances at every port like a sailor! Was he dismissed for that? NO. Despite his insatiable appetite for the opposite sex and immorality, he rose to become the IG.

Thankfully, Section 138 of the new Police Act 2020 which does not seem to have come into operation yet because it has not been gazetted (or so), categorically prohibits gender discrimination as provided by Section 42 of the Constitution. I was therefore, disgusted and embarrassed, when I heard the COP, Ekiti State, Tunde Mobayo, instead of aligning himself with the 2020 PA, trying to justify the dismissal of Ms Olajide in a television interview – a law enforcement officer that is obviously not conversant with the law, publicly displaying his lack of knowledge with gusto and aplomb. While the COP did admit that Ms Olajide had a right under Section 42 of the Constitution, his defence was that Ms Olajide was aware of the rules before she signed-on to the Police Force. Really? As we say in Yoruba, Mr Mobayo, ‘se òrò to mu lakaye ni yèn’ (‘is that sensible talk’)? Is Mr Mobayo not aware of Section 1(3) of the Constitution? Is the PA superior to the Constitution? Does the fact that Ms Olajide signed-on, supersede the provisions of the grundnorm? I think not.

Conclusion

I call on the Nigeria Police Force to rescind this sickening discriminatory decision, dismissing Corporal Olajide with immediate effect and automatic alacrity (à la Chief Eleyinmi of of the Village Headmaster series of those days), and rather, concentrate their efforts on more useful endeavours like preventing and detecting crime, and protecting the lives and property of Nigerians. Our Government Officials and Spokespersons should venture to do a bit more research before they issue public statements, as it is rather awkward to say the least, when they disseminate impeachable, unreliable information, and then have the temerity to turn around to accuse others of spreading fake news. The world has become a global village, and we all watch ourselves. It impugns on our credibility as a nation, when the world has to listen to our National Spokespersons and those who hold high positions such as Ministers and State Governors, babbling and drivelling.