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Appeal Court Declares Dismissal Of Pregnant Unmarried Policewomen Illegal




The Court of Appeal in Abuja has ruled that Regulations 126 and 127 of the Nigerian Police, which permit the dismissal of unmarried policewomen who become pregnant while in service, are illegal.
The court has thereby directed the Attorney General of the Federation, the Police Service Commission, and the Nigerian Police Force to conduct a thorough review of the entire Police Regulations to ensure their compliance with the requirements of a modern society governed by the rule of law.


Justice Olubunmi Oyewole delivered the lead judgment, which was unanimously endorsed by the other panel members, Justice Bukola Banjoko and Justice Okon Abang.

This judgment was rendered in response to a lawsuit filed by the incorporated trustees of the Nigeria Bar Association against the three respondents.


The legal dispute originated on February 15, 2021, when the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) submitted an originating summons challenging the discriminatory practices within the Nigerian Police Force.

The appellants brought their case before the court, seeking a determination on various matters.


One of the key issues was whether Regulation 127 of the Nigeria Police Regulations, which states that unmarried female police officers who become pregnant should be discharged from the force and can only be re-enlisted with the approval of the Inspector General of Police, violates the provisions of Sections 37 & 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), and is therefore unconstitutional and null and void.

Additionally, the NBA requested that the court strike down Regulations 126 and 127 of the Nigeria Police Regulations, as they are in direct conflict with the provisions of Sections 37 and 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).


After considering the arguments presented, Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja delivered his judgment on February 21, 2022, dismissing the appellant’s action on the grounds of lacking merit.

Not satisfied with the decision, the appellant filed a Notice of Appeal on March 15, 2022, containing six grounds, and approached the Court of Appeal.


In a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal, overturning the Federal High Court’s ruling in favour of the NBA.

The court held that Regulations 126 and 127 of the Police Act “interfere with the privacy of the lives of female police officers and discriminate against them on the basis of their gender”.


Justice Oyewole said, “I do not agree with the learned trial Judge that the regulations in issue are necessary for morality and discipline in the Police Force as morality and discipline do not have a gender bias.

“It is unthinkable that the Nigerian Police of this day and age operates on the principle that female officers need to be specially moderated and regulated while their male counterparts are free. This is unacceptable in a decent and democratic society governed by the rule of law.


“The argument that prospective female police officers who cannot subsequently complain consented to the deprivation flies in the face of the constitutional provisions expressly granting them the rights involved as citizens of this country.

“The rights given go beyond those for the personal benefit of the individuals involved as could be waived by them. They are public rights which accord with the demands of a fair, equitable and humane society. These are standards and values demanded of modern nations and which are outside the purview of any individual to waive.


“I therefore hold that the said regulations 126 and 127 are inconsistent with the provisions of sections 37 and 42 of the Constitution and are therefore null and void to the extent of their inconsistency pursuant to section 1 (3) of the Constitution.

“The Respondents are advised to carry out a comprehensive review of the entire Police Regulations to ensure that they accord with the demands of a modern society operating under the rule of law.


“I accordingly resolve the two issues in favour of the Appellant and against the Respondents. This appeal is meritorious, and it is hereby allowed. Consequently, the decision of the lower court in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/178/2021, delivered on the 21st of February 2022, is hereby set aside.

“Instead, the questions for determination in the said Suit are answered in the affirmative while the reliefs sought therein are granted as prayed. Parties shall bear their respective costs.’

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