From Kemi Yesufu, Abuja
The House of Representatives has mandated its committees on Defence, Army, Navy and Air Force to investigate claims of plans to scrap the training of female cadets in the Nigerian Defence Academy to be commissioned as regular combatant officers in the armed forces.
The joint committee was given four weeks to report back to the House for further legislative action.
Despite Tuesday’s statement by the Director Defence Information, Defence Headquarters, Major-General John Enenche, describing a newspaper report as an act of disinformation, the House stressed that stopping female cadets from training as combatants will amount to policy reversal which is highly detrimental to Nigerian women.
Enenche said in the statement made available to Daily Sun, that the provision in the terms and condition of service for female officers in the Nigerian military, stipulates that women are eligible for all commissions open to men. He insisted that the provision has not been changed.
Meanwhile, the resolution of the House was subsequent to the adoption of a motion on the “Call to Halt the Proposed Plan to Stop Admission of Combatants Female Cadet into the Nigerian Defence Academy”, sponsored by a member, Omosede Igbinedion.
Leading the debate on the motion, Igbinedion cited Section 42 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, saying, this section protects Nigerian women against discrimination based on their gender.
The lawmaker also said that the story on stopping women from training as combatants means the federal government is acting contrary to Beijing Declaration of 1995 which Nigeria is signatory to.
She maintained that affirmative action such as the Beijing Declaration should be viewed in positive light, especially in a developing country like Nigeria, where women empowerment is a sure route to growth and development.
“Institutions are usually established to promote the provisions of the constitution and not to breach them like the move to end the admission of female cadets seems to suggest”, Igbinedion said of the alleged plans by the NDA to keep out female cadets.
When put up for a voice, by Deputy Speaker Yussuff Lasun, who presided over plenary, yesterday, the motion was unanimously adopted by members.