By Stephen Adeleye.
Kogi State Government through the office of Public Defender and Citizens’ Rights Commission (PDCRC) has trained critical stakeholders for full implementation of Violence Against Persons and Prohibition (VAPP) Law in the state.
The training was organised by PDCRC in collaboration with the Savannah Centre for Diplomacy Democracy and Development (SCDDD), and Mercy Corps Nigeria.
Speaking at the workshop in Lokoja, the Director General of PDCRC, Barr. Abdullahi Zakari, commended Gov Yahaya Bello for signing the VAPP Law, as well as the state’s Attorney General for Justice for his commitment to the reality of the law.
Zakari said that the signing of the VAPP Law in Kogi, meant that the Governor had once again demonstrated his commitment to ensuring a violent free State.
“The governor has further demonstrated in his usual manner that an atmosphere of violence does not augur well for a development.
“His Excellency has proved that when there are issues of crises and violence in both private and public life which the law seeks to protect, the rights of the people would be trampled upon.
“So, the governor has done it perfectly well to join the Comity of States by signing the law to ensure a violent free private and public life across Kogi State”, Zakari said.
According to Zakari, the participants are professionals carefully selected from various relevant institutions in the state which include: Ministry of Justice, PDCRC, NBA, Police, NSCDC, Magistrates FIDA, among others.
He said that the two-day training workshop was very significant to PDCRC because it was the first step the commission was taking to empowering professionals vested and entrusted to enforcing the law.
The director general added that the workshop would ensure seamless and full implementation of the VAPP Law in Kogi, and also afford them the opportunity to key into the international best practices.
He noted that the PDCRC remained the State’s Agency responsible for providing access to justice, legal aid, enforcement and protection of human rights in the state.
Zakari disclosed that Kogi PDCRC have had over 50 cases pending before the State High Court across the state, saying 25 of those cases had been successfully concluded and about eight of the defendants had secured their liberty.
Also speaking, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Kogi State, Ibrahim Sani Mohammed SAN, commended the Office of the PDCRC for the initiative.
According to him, the objective of the Law among others is basically to protect the human person from physical and psychological abuse, to preserve his dignity and liberty and to punish acts targeted at degrading or harming the physical being of man.
“There is no doubt that the intent behind VAPP Law is indeed grandiose, the only challenge pending, in my view, is how to understand and apply its provisions, the bulk of which are novel, and yet to be tested in our criminal justice system.
“The VAPP Law prohibits all forms of violence against persons in private and public life and provides effective remedies for the victims while making provisions for punishing the offenders in the State.
“It is expected that this workshop will examine the novel provisions on certain crimes like rape, domestic violence, physical injury and other offensive conducts.
“The importance of this workshop geared towards equipping relevant stakeholders in our criminal justice system with the requisite knowledge on the operation of the Law cannot therefore be over emphasized,” Mohammed said.
The attorney general who was represented by Oyetunji Ojutaiye, an Asst. Director in the Ministry, urged the participants to seize the opportunity to equip themselves with all the invaluable tools at the workshop, whether as magistrates or prosecutors.
On his part, the Executive Director, SCDDD, Amb. Sani Bala, said the training was aim at building the capacity of law officers and other critical stakeholders involved in the implementation of VAPP Law in Kogi.
Bala urged the participants to pay rapt attention at the training so as to understand the content and context of the VAPP law, and assimilate the procedures for implementation.
He stressed the need for participants to acquire more knowledge on practices and other procedures that would ensure full implementation of the law in order to promote peace and justice in Kogi.
“At the end of the 2-day training, we expected that all the participants would have clear understanding of what the law is all about.
“They will also know the limitations of the implementation and the equipments in terms of facilities, exchange of ideas and access to sources of information and guidance so that they can effectively implement the VAPP Law in the state,” Bala said.
One of the participants, Barr. Lilian Ajuma Okolo, commended the PDCRC and other collaborating partners for organising the training, saying it would go a long way to empowering professionals then for effective implementation of the VAPP Law in the state.