An Introduction to the Enugu State of Nigeria, 2019 Law, No. 2 on Violence Against persons (Prohibition) Law, 2019.
WACOL under the transformational leadership of Professor Joy Ngozi Ezeilo worked tirelessly in advocacy and lobbying with the good team of WACOL staff, especially Chukwu Ojielo, Ijeoma Uzoeshi and Anulika Ezennia to get the Enugu State Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Law, 2019 passed. With funding from USAID and DFID, Women Aid Collective (WACOL) in partnership with National Democratic Institute (NDI) implemented the legislative Advocacy campaign for the adoption of the Bill in Enugu State.
We appreciate the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Edward Ubosi, who personally led the legislators to WACOL organized a three-day retreat in Awka, Anambra State supported by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) in 2018. The sponsor of the Bill Hon. Chuka Eneh was also unwavering with some house members, including Hon. Dr. Emeka Ogbuabor and Hon. Dame Nkechi Omeje-Ogbu who stood their ground and supported wholeheartedly this bill despite some strong but minority opposition.
In the end, without the all-important Signature of the Governor obtained on 8th day of May, 2019 all efforts would have amounted to nothing. We therefore, thank the Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Gburugburu), peace loving Governor for always standing on the side of the people, especially for justice for the poor and the oppressed.
It took us three years to get this law passed, but thankfully shorter than the VAPP Act, 2015 applicable to the FCT, which according to the Founding Director of WACOL and Tamar SARC took fourteen years to birth with persistent social and legislative advocacy with committed activists like Prof. Joy Ezeilo and gender groups led by LACVAW.
The challenge has now shifted to effective enforcement of these laws passed by the National Assembly and some states of the Federation, including Anambra, Cross River, Edo, Enugu, Ekiti, Kaduna, Lagos and Ogun States.
WACOL has simplified the Enugu State Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Law, 2019 and translated the reader friendly version into Igbo language as part of its awareness raising on this Law to enable women and men of Enugu State understand their rights and responsibilities under this Law. The VAPP Law protects everyone from sexual and gender-based violence.
This law prohibits all forms of violence against persons in private and public life, and provides maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishment for offenders.
The VAPP Law is divided in five parts with 45 sections. The parts are as follows: Part 1: Citation and Interpretation; Part 2: Offences; Part 3 – Jurisdiction of the Court; Part 4: Service Providers; and finally, Part 5 on the Regulatory Body.
Part 2 on offences is broken into twenty (20) sections. The part started with section 3 and ended with section 22 of the Law. The sections contain different and various offences on violence against persons. The offences are centered on preventing and prohibiting violence against persons. Also, the offences made provision for penalty or payment of fines or both penalties and fines. Offences criminalized and sanctioned includes: rape, incest, indecent exposure, female circumcision or general mutilation, forceful ejection from home, depriving a person of his or her liberty, forced financial dependence or economic abuse, forced isolation or separation from family and friends, emotional, verbal and psychological abuse. Others are: harmful widowhood practices, abandonment of spouse, children and other dependents without sustenance, stalking, intimidation, spousal battery, harmful traditional practices, attack with harmful substances, including administering a substance with intent to have sex or stupefying or overpowering that person so as to enable any person to engage in a sexual activity with that person.
S. 35 covers the rights of victims. It states that in addition to the rights guaranteed under Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, or any other international human rights instruments, to which Nigeria is a party, every victim of violence defined in this Law, is entitled to among other rights to receive the necessary materials, medical, psychological, social and legal assistance through governmental agencies and non – governmental agencies providing such assistance. Victims are entitled to be informed of the availability of legal, health and social services and other relevant assistance and be readily afforded access to them.
Section 36, provides for the registration, powers and activities of the service providers; whilst s. 38 established the office of a coordinator for prevention of domestic violence, who is charged with the duty of reporting annually to the State Government on implementation status. By virtue of s. 39, a Court can declare a person a dangerous sexual offender if convicted of sexual offence for more than once or convicted for sexual offence against a child.
Finally, a trust fund was established under s 45 to provide much needed integrated assistance to victims, including legal aid, shelter, counselling and other rehabilitative measures to aid victims and organizations supporting them.