NGO urges Rivers govt to domesticate VAPP Act

From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt

A Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) has urged the Rivers State government under the leadership of Governor Nyesom Wike, to sign into law the Violence Against Persons Prohibition(s) (VAPP) Act in the state.

The group made the call yesterday, during a meeting with newsmen in Port Harcourt.

The Director of Programme, CEHRD, Styvn Obodokwe who led the meeting noted that the State House of Assembly had since passed the VAPP Bill and urged the state government to assent to the document.

Obodokwe decried the rate of gender-based violence cases recorded during the COVID-19 lockdown across the country.

According to the group: “We noticed with dismay that during the lockdown due to COVID-19, the country witnessed increase in gender-based violence cases across the 36 States of the country.

“The Inspector General of Police announced this during his broadcast on recorded gender-based violence in the country of 717 rape cases from January to May, 2020.”

The group lamented that five years after the passage of the law by National Assembly, 21 States are yet to domesticate the VAPP Act, even after the Nigerian Governors’ Forum had declared a state of emergency on rape and sexual abuse across the country.

CEHRD commended the River State House of Assembly for the legislative rigours it went through to pass the Bill, stressed that, “unfortunately, after five years of the passage of the law, as at today, 21 States, including Rivers State, are yet to domesticate the VAPP Act’.

Obodokwe also recalled that, in June 2020, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum declared a state of emergency on rape and sexual violence against persons in all the 36 States.

CEHRD however, urged the Nigeria Police to create a gender-based violence desk to handle issues bordering on violence against persons in the society.

Also speaking, Head, Human Rights and Governance, Dr. David Vareba, regretted that CEHRD lacks enforcement power on violence against persons which necessitated the call for police to create a gender-based violence desk.

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