The new dress code for the Nigerian Police unveiled by the Inspector General of Police on March 4, 2022, especially for female officers, who are to be allowed to wear coverings or hijab, has been described as illegal and ultra vires.
Consequently, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, who made the observation, is insisting the new Police dressing code as it affects Police Women should be reversed. He asserted that the IGP shopuld not use his office to enforce religion.
The call was made in a statement dated Saturday, March 5, 2022 and personally signed by Adegboruwa, who argued that the religion of public officers, including security agencies should be private to them.
The statement reads: “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.”
Referring to sections of the Nigerian constitution which compels neutrality and prohibits discrimination, Adegboruwa said: “Section 10 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria stipulates that 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.”
His statement raised questions such as: “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?”
He stated further that, “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, 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 guaranty safety of lives and property. The religious preferences of policemen and women should be their private matters,” he said.