Until some few years back, married Nigerian women were required to have a letter of consent from their husbands before they could be issued an international Nigerian passport, but Dr Priye Iyalla Amadi, the wife of late renowned author, Elechi Amadi changed that. Dr Iyalla Amadi protested and fought for herself and other women when she took the Nigerian Immigration Service to court over this archaic law and won in 2008.
Dr Iyalla-Amadi had sought a replacement of her international passport in February 2008, and among the list of documents she would attach to her formal application was a letter of consent from her husband, but she protested that an adult should not need the consent of anyone to get a passport. The Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) refused so, she took them to court.
The NIS argued that Nigerian married women are grouped with minors by the government as persons who require consent from the head of the family. They also argued that the consent was put in place to establish the authority of the man over his wife, no matter her status in the society, so that the marriage institution would not crash.
The NIS, however, lost the case as their argument was declared unconstitutional by the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt on the 1st of June 2009. Justice G.K. Olotu, the presiding judge of the Federal High court gave a judgment that she described as a policy that has no place in the 21st century.
Dr Priye Iyalla Madai is an Associate Professor at the Ignatius Ajuru University of Education.