Group reinstate need for Gov Wike to domesticate VAPP Act

Cross section of Police officers participants at a one-day training on Enforcement of Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, organized by CEHRD in Port Harcourt

…Train Police officers on enforcement of Act

From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt

A non governmental organization, Centre for Environment and Human Rights Development (CEHRD) has urged the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike to assent to the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, passed into law by the state House of Assembly.

The group opined that if the Governor assent the bill into law, it will address the challenges of harassment and sexual abuses on both male and female victims.

Dr David Vareba, Head, Human Rights and Governance, CEHRD, who spoke on Thursday, during the training of police officers on Enforcement of Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act, said that the call arise due to the incessant increase in rape and gender based violence in the state.

He said CEHRD has been working with the police and other critical stakeholders, including the health sector and Civil Society for the past three years to ensure that Governor give attention to the Act.

speaking further on the programme which was held at the Police Officers Mess, Port Harcourt, Dr Vareba said “We want to intensify our strategic partnership with the police and the health sector. Yesterday we trained the health sector on Health System Response to Gender Based Violence and today we are training the police on Enforcement of Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act”.

He narrated that “The VAPP Act was made in law in 2015 at the National Assembly and thereafter domesticated at the Rivers State House of Assembly.

“So, the state House of Assembly has passed the law but the Governor is yet to consent to it to the law. However, we have pushed it and want to ensure that and hopefully by the end of the year, the Governor will assent to the bill. And when the bill is assented to the police will enforce the law.

“The VAPP Act enlarge and emboldened what sexual harassment is. It explained that beyond the women experience men can also be sexually harassed. It goes beyond physical harassment to emotional, to even psychological. So when you abuse person verbally is also harassment”.

He stressed that the VAPP Act is also special in terms of giving effective remedy to the survivals or the victims, adding that “this is was not in the Criminal and Penal Code. The law is very all encompassing, is very wide. We have taken time to bring the modus into different beats and specifically relate to where it touches on gender based violence, then gathered the police, those on the human rights desk to train them on the different beats”.

Speaking with The AUTHORITY, Barr Koko Aluzu, the programme facilitator, expressed gratitude that the officers showed commitment to the training.

He said “I appreciate the Nigerian Police for allowing their officers to attend the workshop today. At least it will give them first hand knowledge of the VAPP Act, once assent has been given by the Governor of Rivers State.

“This programme will really help them to enforce the law because as a law enforcement agency when this law comes into force, they will know how to profile their charges in court, know how to advise victims to and reinstate victims to their rightful state of mind.

“There are some basic provisions of the Act that has never existed in any law in Nigeria and I think those provisions serve as a vacuum where other laws have holes. For example, somebody can be prosecuted for harmful traditional practices, he can get judgement and can land the accused in prison”.

Some of the officers that spoke with our correspondent, said the training was timely following the incessant harassment on the people.

ASP Bernard Konkor, attached to Human Rights Department, Rivers State Police Headquarters, said “The training is indeed a great one because is synonymous with the office I am working with. I think we have made a lot of impact as regards to the Criminal matters that the police have handling. This is another section, we are taking it to each and every Division, every police formation to tell that this is another new era to charging all crime related offences, sexual harassment, others”.

On his part, Innocent Piabu, O/C Human Rights desk, Diobu Division, said “The programme has enlighten my knowledge on how to handle human rights abuses in my station and the same time it also enhanced me the opportunity on gender based violence, and how to make sure the victims are well taken care Centre”

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