A civil society organisation, the Women Empowerment & Legal Aid, on Monday, asked the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Farouk Yahaya, to immediately release Private Sofiyat Akinlabi, a female soldier currently in detention over her decision to marry a male corps member.
The Chairperson of the group, Funmi Falana, in a letter to the COAS, asked Lt. General Yahaya to respect the decision of Private Akinlabi.
Akinlabi was detained by Nigerian Army authorities after accepting the marriage proposal of an unnamed corper at the National Youth Service Corps Orientation (NYSC) Camp in Yikpata, Kwara State.
Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu told Punch that the female officer violated military laws by getting involved in a public display of amorous relationship with a paramilitary trainee, a corps member, vowing that she will be punished.
However, in the letter titled, ‘Request for the Release of Private Sofiyat Akinlabi’, the wife of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, said the female soldier “has not contravened the regulation on restriction of marriage for three years”.
“The restriction of a female military personnel from contracting any marriage for three years upon enlistment which is not applicable to male military personnel is illegal and unconstitutional,” the letter added.
The female Falana also argued that no male soldier has been punished for proposing to a love interest in public has seen on social media. She, therefore, declared as illegal, the detention of Akinlabi.
The letter partly read, “In view of the fact that male soldiers have not been penalized for involving themselves in a public display of amorous relationship in full military uniform the threat to sanction Private Sofiyat Akinlabi is discriminatory. Some of the photographs of male soldiers involved in a public display of amorous relationship are attached.
“In view of the foregoing, we urge you to use your good offices to order the release of Private Sofiyat Akinlabie from further custody. Furthermore, her decision to marry the male youth corps member should be respected as both of them are entitled to freedom of association guaranteed by Section 40 of the Constitution.
“While wishing you compliments of the season, please accept the assurances of our professional regards and esteem.”
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