Court directs NYSC to allow female corps members wear skirts

A Federal High Court in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital has declared that it is a human rights violation for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to compel all female corps members to wear trousers as their uniforms.

Justice H.A. Nganjiwa made the declaration while delivering judgment in Suit No: FHC/AI/CS/12/2023 between Miss Ufumaka Glory Ukpanken a corps member with number EΕΒ/Α221514 as an Applicant and the NYSC, Director General of NYSC, and the State Coordinator of NYSC as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Respondents.

In the landmark decision, Justice Nganjiwa ruled that female corps members must be allowed to wear skirts instead of trousers as their uniforms unless the corps members opt for trousers.

The applicant, Miss Ufomaka Ukpanken had sued the NYSC authorities following the harassment and sanction for wearing a skirt instead of the trousers provided as part of her kit.

Miss Ukpanken in an Originating Motion dated January 12, 2023 and filed on January 13, 2023, through her lawyer, I. Ο. Okhidievbie, Esq. sought the enforcement of her fundamental rights, averring that being forced to wear trousers against her religious belief is an infringement of her constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human rights.

In the judgement delivered on January 31, 2024, a copy of which was was seen on Thursday, Justice Nganjiwa awarded N5 million in favour of the Applicant against all the Respondents as general and exemplary damages for the infringement and violation of her fundamental rights.

The judgement partly read: “That the application is granted as prayed: A DECLARATION is made that the refusal of the Respondent to recognize and allow skirt as part of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) uniform/kit is a breach of the Applicant’s Fundamental Right as contained, guaranteed and protected under Section 38(1) of the 1999 Constitution (As amended) pursuant to the Applicant’s Christian belief, faith and injunction as contained in the Book of Deuteronomy Chapter 22, verse 5 in the Holy Bible (KJV) and, is a misreading of 2nd Schedule, Article 1 (I)(a) of the NYSC Bye Laws, 1999.

“A DECLARATION is made that the use of skirt as her official dressing, uniform/kit by the Applicant forms part of her Fundamental Rights to the Freedom of Religion and Freedom to manifest same in practice observance as CC guaranteed and protect 3/6 Section 38(1) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended).

“A DECLARATION is made that the harassment, embarrassment, humiliation and instituted proceedings to “discipline” the Applicant, to which she is currently subjected to in the hands of the agents of the Respondents is a clear infringement on the Fundamental Rights of the Applicant to Freedom of Religion and Freedom to manifest same in her fundamental right to dignity of the human person and from degrading treatment.

“AN ORDER is made mandating the Respondents, servants, agents, privies or whatsoever called to recognize, allow and provide skirt for the Applicant or any female National Youth Service Corps member wishing to use same in line with her Fundamental Right as contained, guaranteed and protected under Section 38(1) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) and pursuant to the injunction of the Holy Bible (KJV) in the Book of Deuteronomy at Chapter 22 verse 5 thereof.

“AN ORDER OF PERPETUAL INJUNCTION is made restraining the Respondents, their servants, agents, privies or whatsoever called from further abducting, “arresting”, detaining and subjecting the Applicant or any female member of the National Youth Service Corps from further harassment, embarrassment, humiliation and instituted proceedings to “discipline” her on account of her use of skirt as part of her official NYSC dressing, uniform/kit or in purported enforcement of the NYSC Bye LAWS 1999 or any amended version in this regard.

“General and exemplary damages of N5, 000, 000.00 (Five Million Naira) only is awarded against the Respondents jointly and severally in favour of the Applicant for the infringement and violation of her Fundamental Rights.

“AN ORDER is made that the Respondents allow the Applicant to complete her National Youth Service Corps as required by law.

“AN ORDER is made that the Applicant upon completion of the said mandatory (NYSC) service, she be issued her certificate of National Service immediately.

“AN ORDER is made that henceforth, the Respondents should not force female corps members to wear Trousers.”

(SAHARAREPORTERS)

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