The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) have expressed worries over high cases of public and private violence across Kogi state.
FIDA called on Kogi state government to make the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) law signed by the government in 2022 available to the public.
Kogi State Chairperson of FIDA, Lillian Ajuma Okolo, made the call during a one-day sensitization of stakeholders in the administration of criminal justice on the provisions of the Kogi State VAPP law 2022 in Lokoja on Wednesday.
Okolo, while noting that the programme is aimed at enlightening the general public on the VAPP law signed in June 2022, said the law demonstrate government commitment to put an end to all form of violence in the state.
The legal practitioner lamented the wide mis-conception about the VAPP law signed in the state, stressing that there is need to sensitize the people more about the law reduce violence against any person in Kogi state.
She also appealed to the government to give adequate funding to the Office of the Public Defender who according to her has the mandate to ensure proper implementation of the VAPP law.
“This law is a significant step towards ensuring the protection and welfare of all persons in Kogi State. violence against persons is a serious issue that affects individuals, families, and communities, and the passage of this law demonstrates the government’s commitment to putting an end to it.
“This law covers a wide range of offenses, including physical violence, sexual violence, emotional abuse, and economic abuse, among others.
“After this law was passed in June last year by our amiable Governor, I embarked on a one on one sensitization. I told a colleague that his next rape application should be done under the VAPP law.
His response was that you women, what do you want? I was taken aback because this was coming from a lawyer. This was a great concern to me. If most lawyers are not aware of this law, then what about the lay men?
“Today’s sensitization is an opportunity for us to learn more about the provisions of the law and its implications for our communities. We will also be discussing ways to prevent and address violence against persons, as well as the role of law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders in implementing the law effectively,” she said.
In his remarks, the Kogi State Chief Judge, Justice Josiah Majebi commended FIDA for their promptness on issues concerning the rights of women and children in the country.
Justice Majebi also reiterated that some lawyers in the state are not aware that the law has been passed, just as he appealed to the Ministry of Justice to take proper look at the law and ensure that their charges comes under it.
Narrating his ordeals about the sharp practices of some legal practitioners with questionable character, the Chief judge lamented that some prosecuting counsels have been compromised hence the need to collectively put an end to such menace in the judiciary.
Also speaking, the State Attorney General, Ibrahim Sanni, who was represented by Barrister Okpanachi, was of the view that the sensitization programme will bring the law closer to the people.
Adding his voice, the Chairperson, Kogi State NGO Network (KONGONET), Ambassador Idris Ozovehe Muraina commended FIDA for their roles in making a better society.
In her paper presentations, on the overview of Kogi State Violence Prohibition Law, a legal practitioner, Ojoma Haruna said the VAPP law is not restricted to women alone but also captured individual including children, men and vulnerable persons.
She said the VAPP law will eliminate all forms of violence in both public and private lives, adding that there was high cases of violence during the covid-19 lockdown across the country.
Continuing, she said “the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act 2015 (VAPP ACT), which is domesticated in various states in Nigeria, is the only legislation that is focused on gender based violence in Nigeria. In Kogi State, the VAPP Law became operative in 2022 and it eliminates violence in private and public life.
“The law prohibits all forms of violence and threat of violence against persons. It provides a mechanism for victims to apply for a protective order. It comes at an auspicious time when the incidence of gender- based violence is growing astronomically in Nigeria.
“The recent COVID-19 lockdown, violence in the South East, North East and across the country, inclusive of the drop in our societal values has escalated violence against persons to an alarming extent. Violence results in cumulative breaches of rights, including right to life, survival, as well as sexual and reproductive rights.
“Whereas it is true that violence affects both women and men, it unarguably affects women and girls disproportionately. A woman or girl for instance, who is raped would have to contend with unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections as well as violation of her right to bodily integrity, mental torture, emotional distress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that are all aftermaths of incidence of sexual violence”.