Group Writes Army Over Detention Of Female Soldier

A civil society organisation, the Women Empowerment and Legal Aid (WELA) has written the chief of army staff, Lt. General Farouk Yahaya, asking him to respect the decision of a female soldier, Private Sofiyat Akinlabi, to marry a male corps member.

The chairperson of the group, Funmi, wife of Lagos lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, in a letter to the COAS, demanded the immediate release of the soldier who had since been detained by the military authorities after accepting the marriage proposal of an unnamed corps member at the National Youth Service Corps Orientation Camp in Yikpata, Kwara State.

The military, through the director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, confirmed the arrest of the female soldier saying that she violated military laws by getting involved in a public display of amorous relationship with a corps member.

In the letter titled, “Request for the Release of Private Sofiyat Akinlabi”, the wife of the Senior Advocate 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.

She also argued that no male soldier has been punished for proposing to a love interest in public as seen on social media. She, therefore, declared as illegal, the detention of Akinlabi.

The letter reads in part, “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.

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