Funmi Falana, wife of a human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has written to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Farouk Yahaya, seeking the release of female soldier detained for accepting a marriage proposal from a youth corps member.
Falana said Private Sofiyat Akinlabi’s decision to marry the corps member be respected in accordance with the freedom of association guaranteed by Section 40 of the Nigerian Constitution.
Army spokesman, Brig-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, had explained that Akinlabi violated extant military guidelines and directives by getting involved in a public display of amorous relationship with the trainee corps member and for not completing three years in service.
But in a letter dated December 20, 2021, Mrs Falana, who is the chairperson of the Women Empowerment and Legal Aid, said the rule which bars women soldiers from contracting marriage in less than three years after enlistment and does not apply to the male personnel is illegal and unconstitutional.
She cited the case of Women Empowerment and Legal Aid and the Attorney General of the Federation 2015 1 NHRLR (PT 1) 57 in which the Federal High Court nullified Regulation 124 of the Nigerian Police.
“In view of the fact that male soldiers have not been penalised for involving themselves in a public amorous relationship in full military uniform, the threat to sanction Private Sofiyat Akinlabi is discriminatory.”