Body & Soul

When gender becomes a barrier

It was a breaking and shocking news last Wednesday
that the Nigeria Police authorities ordered its female
officers married to civilians to vacate the Barracks with
their families.

 

This means that a large number of married policewomen
and others married to civilians living in different barracks
in Enugu State and across the country are on the verge of
being homeless following an order by the police authorities
directing them to vacate the facilities.

 

The message was contained in a police wireless message
with reference number C8:0900/ENS/PROV/VOL.1/195,
DTO:100800/11/2021 which was obtained by newsmen.
The signal originated from the Department of Finance
and Administration in Enugu State and was addressed to
all Assistant Commissioners of Police, Heads of Department
and Divisional Police Officers in the state.

The document read, “You warn all women police personnel
serving with their civilian husbands at police barracks
in the command x within jurisdiction yours x to vacate
same on or before 31/01/2022 x repeat 31/01/2022.”
The police authorities said the move was to forestall security
compromise in all stations and barracks within the
command.
The document also asked those who sublet whole or part
of their barrack accommodations to civilians to eject them
or face disciplinary action.
One of the affected female officers on condition of anonymity,
was quoted saying “evicting women police from
the barracks just because they are married to civilians is
insane and the shameful. They should have same rights
and opportunities like their male colleagues.
“Gender inequality like this will affect the women psychologically
and make them feel worthless just because of
their choice of marriage.”
That is one out of many female officers who was scared
with the circular.
The public outcry supported the female officers and
pointed out that that was unfair and gender insensitive.
Some group even tagged it as ‘gender inequality.’
However, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali
Baba, has calmed all nerves, assuring Nigerians that no
female Police Officer in Police Barracks across the country
would be ejected for residing with their civilian spouses.
The IGP gave the assurance while reacting to the signal
from the Enugu State Police Command. The Police
spokesperson, CP Frank Mba,
in a statement, said the IGP,
is miffed with the said “directive”,
while describing it
as unlawful, discriminatory,
obnoxious, reprehensive and
totally out of tune with the
concept of equality as enshrined
in our Constitution.
He noted that the “directive”
is not in line with the
Force Gender Policy, which
institutionalises gender mainstreaming
as a core value in
the Nigeria Police Force.
He said: “The IGP further noted that a Police Force that
has produced several top-ranking, successful female officers,
including Deputy Inspectors General of Police (DIGs), Assistant Inspectors General of Police (AIGs), State  Command Commissioners of Police, Area Commanders,
DPOs, eminent Spokespersons, an Olympic Gold Medalist,
amongst others, will never walk such a retrogressive path.”
Meanwhile, the IGP has called on members of the public,
particularly, female Police Officers and their families, who
might have become disturbed as a result of the directive, to
ignore same as the said illegal order is null and void and
of no effect whatsoever.

 

The IGP further assured Nigerians that the Force remains
committed to advancing the general wellbeing, rights and
privileges of its personnel, irrespective of rank or gender.

 

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