Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa SAN at the weekend faulted the new dress code approved for policewomen by the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba Alkali, saying it is not only illegal and unconstitutional, but that he cannot use his office to enforce religion.
The IGP approved the new dress code for women officers which permits them to wear stud earrings, and headscarf under their berets or peak caps as the case may be while in uniform. The dress code was unveiled at the IGP’s meeting with Strategic Police Managers on March 3, 2022.
The IGP noted that the Nigeria Police workforce has officers from every local government in the country with a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds, and an increased inclusion of female folks. This therefore brings the need to guarantee inclusion, gender mainstreaming, ethnic and religious diversity in the workplace for optimum output and professionalism.
This has informed the improvement for effective global workforce diversity management. Other countries that have adopted the same dress code include Canada, the United States of America, Sweden, Turkey, Australia and the United Kingdom amongst others.
But Adegboruwa in a statement On Saturday says that the change is illegal and must be reversed immediately. He said that of all the issues that confront the Nigerian Police, it is dressing that interests the Inspector General.
He said: “On March 4, 2022, the Inspector-General of Police purported to unveil a new dress code for the Nigeria Police Force, especially female officers, who are to be allowed to wear coverings or hijab, etc.
The religion of public officers, including members of the security agencies, should be a private matter to them. The Inspector-General of Police is not competent to use the platform of his office to enforce religion.
Section 10 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria stipulates that the government and all its agencies should be neutral in religious matters.
Section 42 of the same Constitution prohibits discrimination in all its ramifications. In this regard, there will be no end to confusion attending the new dress code prescribed by the IGP.
What will be the official uniform for police women who are in the Catholic Church? How should policemen and women who are in the Celestial Church dress up when the practice of their church is against wearing shoes at all?
And how should traditionalists who are in the police force dress up, with charms and amulets round their uniforms?
The Nigeria Police has existed as an institution since 1945 and it is strange that of all the issues confronting that agency, such as low morale, poor welfare, poor infrastructure, poor training, poor welfare, etc, religious adornment should be the priority of the Inspector-General of Police.
The police should focus on combating crime, improve citizens engagement and help guarantee safety of lives and property. The religious preferences of policemen and women should be their private matters”.