For immediate release.
9th June, 2023
Refutation of Misinformation Regarding the VAPP Law
For immediate release.
Subject: Refutation of Misinformation Regarding the VAPP Law
Our attention has been drawn to an Interview granted by Dr. Philip Njemanze, Chairman of the Global Prolife Alliance (GPA), published on page 9 of the Nigerian Horn newspaper Vol. 16, No. 138 Friday 9th June 2023 captioned “Imo VAPP law legalizes abortion, bans Holy Bible, ordains female Priests, crowns women Ezes” also on The Sun newspaper of Friday, June 9, 2023 captioned “VAPP Law legalizes abortion, same-sex marriage, bans holy books –Njemanze”.
We, the undersigned, hereby issue this press statement to refute the baseless and misleading claims made by Academician Dr. Philip Njemanze, Chairman of the Global Prolife Alliance (GPA), regarding the Imo Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Law 2021. We would like to clarify that his statements are not grounded in factual evidence and are gross misinterpretation of the provisions outlined in the VAPP Law.
Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) has been an astronomical increase in Nigeria and Imo state. Daily cases of domestic violence, incest, defilement, rape, baby buying and selling, child trafficking, child marriage, and emotional, psychological, and economic violence. All are continually perpetrated against women and girls and people with disability without a clear law to protect and keep them safe in our environment, the only environment they inhabit.
Almost one in three (31%) women aged 15- 49 have experienced physical violence in Nigeria, 1 in 4 girls, including very young ones, experience sexual violence, 1 in 6 girls are sexually abused, 86% of people presenting for medical attention due to sexual assault in health care facilities are women and girls, 2 in 3 women and girls experience violence by their husbands and boyfriends. Nearly half of girls (43%) get married before their 18th birthday, while one in five girls is married by age 15. Unfortunately, 0.9% of perpetrators of sexual assault are brought to trial, and almost none of them are convicted. What about people with disability? Outrageous data!
Recently, a young dwarf of about 18 years, less than 1 meter in height was raped by able-bodied men in a rural community in Imo State and is expected to walk back on the street as if no crime has been committed. The only stronghold such victims and potential victims hold on society for their continued safety and punishment of perpetrators lies in the 2021 VAPP Law.
What is the VAPP law?
The 2021 VAPP law is a law that addresses violence against persons and its role is to protect individuals from various forms of violence, such as domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, child abuse, and other related offenses. The law provides legal frameworks to prevent, prohibit, and punish acts of violence and provide support and protection for victims. The law also outlines punishment for perpetrators of violence against persons, which could male or female.
To understand the provisions and implications of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law in Imo State, please click the link https://alliancesforafrica.org/imo-state-violence-against-persons-prohibition-law-2021-vapp-law/
Addressing the issues Raised
Legalization of Abortion: First, the word abortion was neither mentioned anywhere in the 2021 VAPP law signed into law nor was it legalised. Abortion remains illegal in Nigeria, and the VAPP Law does not change or override existing laws. It is essential to rely on accurate legal information rather than misleading interpretations being peddled.
Bans on Holy Bible and Holy Koran: The claim that the VAPP Law bans the use of the Holy Bible and Holy Koran is baseless and entirely false. The VAPP Law does not in any way and form interfere with religion and religious practices in any way. Religious freedom and the right to practice one’s faith are protected under the Nigerian Constitution. The VAPP law promotes freedom of choice.
Ordination of Female Priests: Like the false claim on Bans on Holy Bible and Koran, The VAPP Law does not ordain female priests in the Holy Catholic Church or any other religious institution. Matters of religious ordination and practices are determined by the respective religious organizations and are not within the scope of the VAPP Law. This is also stipulated in Chapter 4 section 38 of the Nigerian constitution … (1) Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance
Crowning Women as Ezes: The assertion that the VAPP Law mandates the crowning of women as Ezes (traditional rulers) is unfounded. Traditional leadership structures and succession practices are governed by customary laws and traditions, and the VAPP Law does not interfere with these customs. However, the VAPP law speaks to ending all harmful traditional practices against women and girls, such as female genital mutilation, harmful widowhood practices and on women’s inheritance. Please get the right information!
The claims made by Dr. Philip Njemanze misrepresent the provisions of the VAPP Law and create unnecessary confusion and distraction among the public. We therefore urge the public and media outlets to verify information from reliable sources and consult legal experts e.g Federation of Women Lawyers – FIDA to gain insights and an accurate understanding of the VAPP Law.
The VAPP Law was enacted with the aim of protecting individuals from all forms of violence and ensuring justice for victims. It is an important step toward promoting a safer and more equitable society. Continually we stand by the effectiveness and significance of the VAPP Law in addressing violence against persons and upholding human rights and are glad with the successes and testimonies received thus far.
We demand that Dr Njemanze retract these slanderous statements against the VAPP and set the fallacies he has set in motion right.
The Violence Against Person prohibition bill is a public document that all can access. There are no hidden clauses suggestive of the fallacies being spread by Dr Philip Njemanze. We urge the public to read through the VAPP law and call out Dr. Philip for false information.
The VAPP law should not be used as a campaign tool and the public needs to be aware that this is what Dr Njemanze is aiming to do.
We remain committed to promoting accurate information and fostering constructive dialogue around important legislative measures.
For any further clarification or inquiries, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alliances for Africa
Owerri, Imo State