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Victory for Nigerian Women

By Henry Kester Ewruje.

NigerianpassportWomen in Nigeria recently won a major legal battle against attempts to subjugate them and tie them to the men’s every whim.

A Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, declared as unconstitutional the administrative policy of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), which compelled a married Nigerian woman to produce a letter of consent from her husband as a condition for issuance of international passport.

In his judgement, presiding judge, Justice G. K. Olotu, said the requirement was not only a violation of section 42 (1) (a) of the 1999 constitution but was also against Article 18 (3) of the African Charter on People’s Human Rights which disallows discrimination on grounds of sex.

Dr. Priye Iyalla-Amadi, wife of renowned author, Elechi Amadi filed the case against the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and its director-general, Chukwumah Udeh after she sought a replacement of her international passport and was told by Immigration Officials in Port Harcourt that she needed a written permission from her husband first. She wondered if they wanted to protect the institution of marriage and asked if the husbands were also asked to get letters from their wives, but they could not give her “a satisfactory explanation for this chauvinism”.

Dr. Iyalla-Amadi who was about to travel to Britain then, protested that a mature adult citizen of the country like her should not require the consent of any person before she could be issued a Nigerian passport. She did get her husband’s consent, got her passport and traveled to London. But for a lot of women, that requirement would have had a negative consequence. These kinds of little pieces of discrimination create practical problems in the lives of women. For example, if they don’t get along with their husbands or they are a domineering sort, then they won’t be able to get the passport, so Dr. Iyalla-Amadi did’nt think it was right.

In their defence, the NIS sought to justify the requirement of a letter of consent from the husband of a married woman who wants to be issued a Nigerian passport on the basis that Nigerian married women are classified alongside with minors by government as persons who require consent from the head of the family.
In its argument for the retention of a status quo, the NIS said that the requirement for consent was put in place to perpetuate the authority of the man over the wife, no matter the status she had attained in society. It also said the requirement was set to avoid the unnecessary breakdown of the marriage institution in the country.
Another argument advanced by the NIS was that obtaining a Nigerian passport from the federal government is a privilege; hence any person applying must fulfill all the conditions laid down by the sole agent of the government, which is the NIS. It also contended that married men are the bread winners of their families and therefore do not need the consent of any member of their families, including their wives to travel.

Justice G. K. Olotu, the presiding judge of the Federal High Court, in his verdict reportedly said “this kind of policy has no place in 21st century Nigeria”.
The Court concluded that “the defendant’s classification of married women along with children is a desecration of the provisions of the constitution.
The court held as absurd the defendant’s presumption that all married men are bread winners and so have license to move around the earth without hindrance. It asked, “What about the married women who are bread winners?” The court held the view that such married women should have the same license as their male counterparts.

The NIS was established in 1953.

This is another landmark case. I feel there is hope for the female folk in Nigeria. These kinds of things continue and persist because women only complain, they don’t take action. The discrimination against has been on for a long time.
The issue of men being the breadwinners is simply not true today. Women head quite a significant number of homes in Nigeria. Ways are now open for women to prove their capacity in various fields. Women should speak up and shouldn’t just grumble and let it be, or they will continue to be treated as children.

What do you think????????Nigerianpassport

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Nigeria Education
A major concern for the Diasporean looking to return home is what kind of Education will be available for their Children in Nigeria. Our local expert is a seasoned Educational commentator with a vast knowledge and experience in this field. She will present an unbiased assessment of the schools, based on result, cost ,ethos, curriculum, extracurricular activities and general overall effectiveness of the school. Your own ratings and experience will also be taken on board to enrich the site.

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