By Martin Opera

The controversial Violation Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Bill, which the sponsor, Hon Uju Onwudiwe, representing Njaba State Constituency in the Imo State House of Assembly is making frantic effort to ensure its passage, has suffered another setback, as it has once again, been rejected by Imo people.

This was observed at the public hearing organized by sponsors of the bill on Tuesday 8th December 2020, at the Imo State House of Assembly Complex where the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN and other interest groups, including the Catholic Community represented by Prof. Philip Njemanze, kicked against the bill which they described as demonic.

It was gathered that majority of those present at the venue, rejected it except the uninformed traders and market women who were carried away by sentiments and emotion arising from the impression that the bill is aimed at ending rape, violence and other vices.

Speaking,shortly after the public hearing, Prof. Philip Njemanze, State Chairman, Association of Catholic Medical Practioners who also doubles as the state Coordinator of Prolife movement, who represented the Catholic Church, said promoters of the bill are hiding under the campaign against rape to deceive Imo people.

He maintained that there is nothing different between the present controversial bill and the one sponsored by Hon. Ada Ihuoma of the 7th assembly which was also overwhelmingly rejected by Imo people. “The only difference is that they have changed tactics by hyping the areas that deal with rape and sexual harassment without telling Imo people that the present bill accommodates same sex marriage, legalization of abortion and other obnoxious provisions. It is only ignorant and uninformed people who can’t read between the lines that will give nod to the bill.”

Dr. Njemanze, who represented Archbishop Obinna and the Catholic Church at the hearing said, “the Catholic community has after thorough perusal of the bill and its provisions, observed that it has destructive tendencies that are in compatible with Christian values and doctrine. We reject and emphatically say NO to it.” 

Similarly, the Chairman, of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Bishop Titus Aganabu of Seed of Life Christian Church, a member of CAN delegation to the hearing, said, “the VAPP bill, is imported. 

It lacks African content and is targeted at destroying and eroding our cherished values and norms. We have made our position on the issue known to the Imo House of Assembly. If the bill is actually for the interest and benefit of the people and the same people which it is being advocated are rejecting it, the ideal thing is to drop it as was the case during Okorocha’s tenure. The desperate attempt to pass the bill and foist the law on Imo people gives the impression that it is being hugely sponsored from abroad as widely speculated.”

Speaking in the same vein, PFN’s legal Adviser, Pastor (Barr) Adolph Nnabue, noted that some sections of the bill are obnoxious, reprehensible and dangerous “ One of the sections defines marriage as a domestic relationship instead of the coming together of a man and woman. It also said, it is a relationship between one and any person, thereby indirectly endorsing same sex marriage. It is obvious that those market women who were carried away by the orchestrated protection from violence are unaware of some of these worrisome provisions that encourage abortion, same sex marriage, etc which the sponsors of the bill will not let them know about.”

He further noted that, having taken time to go through the bill as a lawyer, “there is no difference between this and what have already been provided for in the Criminal code, Administration of Justice law, Child Rape Act the Imo State Prohibition Against Genital Mutilation Law and other extant laws. These existing well articulated laws have already addressed the issues the VAPP bill claims to deal with, including rape, violence etc.”

He also stated that the bill did not address any mischief but only introduced dangerous and anti human clauses. “There seem to be external hands and behind the scene manipulators who are bent on imposing the bill on us.”

The legal luminary called on Imo people to rise up to the occasion and vehemently oppose the bill which is an ill wind that will blow no one good.

Asked what will be the next line of action of promoters of the bill insist on going along with it despite the loud public outcry, Prof. Njemanze, said, we all still remember what happened to Rochas and Ohakim. They should also remember what happened to Hon. Ada Ihuoma who initially sponsored the bill or its semblance under Rochas and Hon Egbuchulam who initiated it under Ohakim.

“They are not fighting humans but God. This is the first time in the history of humanity an unborn child in the womb is said not to be a human being. Section 9, part 9 of the VAPP Bill, defines a human being as a male or female, thereby implying that an unborn child who sex is yet unknown is not a human being. This is an aberration of the worst order”, he concluded.