Westminster Foundation For Democracy Partners Oyo Assembly Over Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill

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By Henry Odeh

 

Westminster Foundation For Democracy has partnered the Oyo state house of assembly over the violence against persons prohibition bill, 2020 with a view to deepening democracy and strengthening good governance in the state.

According to its Country Director, Mr Adebowale Olorunmola: “the general spate of violence during the lockdown resulting from the global health emergency around COVID – 19 pandemic resulted in the Oyo State House of Assembly (OYSHA) taking a proactive measure.

“This revolved around strengthening of laws to guarantee the protection of all citizens, particularly the vulnerable, which includes women, youths and persons with disabilities (PWDs). The Oyo State Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill (VAPP Bill) was raised in order to ensure the domestication of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act which was adopted in 2015 at the national level and to strengthen the protection laws for the people of Oyo state.

“In view of the above, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), working with the Nigeria Women Trust Fund (NWTF) as technical partner, is supporting the Oyo state House of Assembly (OYSHA) and people of Oyo state to review and strengthen the bill with inputs from stakeholders, including women groups.
WFD’s engagement in Nigeria is aimed at supporting sustainable democratic growth through inclusive citizen participation and strengthened institutions capable of accountable governance. WFD is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in UK.”

Sponsor of the bill, a two term lawmaker of the Oyo state house of assembly and currently chairman, house committee on women affairs and social inclusion, Honourable Olawumi Oladeji representing Ogbomoso North, said that the bill was necessitated by the rise in violence against persons in recent times.

Speaking earlier while delivering a welcome address during a one day public hearing held at the house of chief, Oyo state Secretariat on Wednesday, Hon Oladeji recounted how the peace between man and woman dated back to days of Cain and Abel in the Holy scriptures.

She lamented the increased rate of crimes emanating from domestic violence including those happening in schools, workplace, marketplace, sport centres, and on the streets.

Hon Oladeji maintained that Oyo state has recorded another break forth following Westminster’s partnership with Oyo state government and the 9th assembly in particular in a bid to ensure actualization of the bill.

She explained that similar was passed during the 8th assembly but the new bill emanated from the clamour from men who lamented that violence is not peculiar to any gender.

Speaking earlier, the Special Adviser to Oyo state governor on security matters, CP (rtd) Fatai Owoseni, called the attention of participants at the public hearing to several sections of the bill in order to caution its provisions from conflicting other extant laws.

Owoseni noted that some of the sections the lawmakers should critically look into with the aim of making necessary adjustment to avoid duplication of laws or making inadequate laws embedded with lacunas criminal elements may rely on for defense at the court.

Some of the sections and subsections of the bill Owoseni wanted the lawmakers to critically look into include sections 3(4) and section 4 among others.

Other participants in their separate submissions to the bill agreed that there is need to give the bill a holistic look in order not to leave any section of the society including destitutes and persons living with disabilities behind.

The Speaker, Hon Adebo Ogundoyin, in his remark, said that such public hearing is part of legislative process aimed at bringing members of the public and relevant stakeholders into the exercise of lawmaking with a view to formulate laws that can best serve the people and make the state better place.

Vice chairman, house committee on women affairs and social inclusion, Hon Ayo Fatokun, who spoke on behalf of Ogundoyin added that all the submissions have been noted and will be duly taken into consideration in the final draft of the bill before it is passed into law.

Participants at the public hearing include members of the Oyo state house of assembly, Nigerian Immigration service, Women Research And Documentary Centre university of Ibadan, Nigeria Police, NSCDC, CPN, NAWOJ, FIDA, JDPC, NMA, IICWNN, and others.

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