Random Musings


Did you know that up until as recently as 7 years ago, married Nigerian women were required to have a letter of consent from their husbands before they could be issued a Nigerian passport?

I bet you didn’t know that up until 2009, Nigerian married were classified alongside with minors by the government as persons who require consent from the head of the family.

You didn’t? Neither did I.

Atleast, not before I read a tweet by @AminahXII a couple of days ago.

Meet Dr.Priye Iyalla-Amadi, the woman who sued the Nigerian Immigration Services and won.
Dr. Priye is the wife of Dr. Elechi Amadi, the renowned Author.

So sometime in February 2008, Dr.Priye Iyalla Amadi had sought for a replacement of her Nigerian passport.

Among the documents she was required to attach to her application was a letter from her husband giving his consent to her being issued a Nigerian passport.

This was one of the administrative requirements imposed by the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) on married women seeking to obtain a Nigerian Passport.

Apparently irked by such an administrative policy that trampled on her right as a human being and treated women as secondary beings who could not do anything without the permission of their husbands, Dr. Priye protested against this requirement and instituted legal proceedings against the NIS.

Her suit demanded for a declaration that the administrative policy of the NIS compelling married women to produce a letter of consent from their husbands as a condition for processing their applications for an international passport is a violation of Section 42 (1)(a) of the 1999 constitution and article 18(3) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, and was discriminatory on the grounds of sex which rendered it unlawful and unconstitutional.

NIS justified the requirement by arguing that women are classified alongside minors by the government as persons who require consent from the head of the family.

The NIS argued that the requirement for consent was put in place to perpetuate the authority of a man over his wife, no matter the status she had attained in the society. It also stated that the requirement was set to avoid unnecessary break down of marriage institution in the country.

Arguing further, the NIS stated that obtaining a Nigerian passport from the Federal government of Nigeria is a privilege, hence any person applying must fulfil all the conditions imposed on the applicants.

Thankfully, the presiding Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice G.K Olotu found for the plaintiff dismissing the arguments of the NIS and holding that such a practice was obnoxious and a calculated attempt to subjugate women.

The court threw out as unconstitutional the entrenched age-old oddity that required married women to obtain their husband’s consent before acquiring or renewing their international passports.

In her verdict, Justice G.K Olotu reportedly said;
“This kind of policy has no policy in 21st century Nigeria”.

On June 1st 2009, NIS lost the case made against them by Dr.Priye, a woman who decided to speak up for herself and other women in Nigeria.

This is a gentle reminder to women, that we are the most important advocate for ourselves.

Credit Source: ThisDay
Young Lawyers Forum, Ikorodu Branch

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