By Mumini Abdulkareem
A top civil right group, Olive Community Development Initiative (OCDI) in conjunction with the National Human Right Commission (NHRC) have called on the members of the Kwara State House of Assembly to support the domestication of the Violence Against Persons Prohibitions (VAPP) Act in the state.
This action is coming on the backdrop of incessant rape and rise in violence and abuse against women and children rampant across the country.
OCDI is working on the Women’s Voice and Nigeria Project along with International Women Communication Centre (IWCC) and Global Hope for Women and Children (GLOHWOC) in Kwara State. The project is sponsored by Global Affairs Canada and ActionAid Nigeria.
Leading a peaceful protest to the House of Assembly recently in company of other human right activists and youths, the group which displayed banners and placards with messages like “say no to rape”, “marriage is no excuse”, believe and support survivors, “listen when a girl says no” and “to end rape, do not rape” among others called on the lawmakers both at the state and federal levels to as a matter of urgency adopt and domesticate the VAPP act in Kwara State to serve as a safety net for vulnerable persons and solution to violation of human rights in the country.
They however expressed disappointment over the failure of the lawmakers to receive them or delegate anybody despite the earlier notice sent adding that about 13 states, aside Kwara, have already domesticated it.
Speaking to National Pilot shortly after the rally, the Programme Manager of OCDI, Mojoyinola Adewuyi said they came to solicit the lawmaker’s support to aide their efforts in a bid to stop all forms of violence against women and children.
She said “As a CSO, we go into grassroots communities to sensitise people by talking to the religious and traditional leaders, parents and children as part of creating awareness for all forms of violence against women and children across the state.
“But we cannot just write laws and domesticate it ourselves, the lawmakers are the one that can do that and domesticate VAPP.
“VAPP is not a new thing and about 13 states in Nigeria have already domesticated it. We are asking that Kwara should also jump on it and do the right thing for the citizens of the state including women, children, boys, girls, men and everybody that will be captured because it caters for all.
“Unfortunately, even though a letter had been written days before and they said they have an oversight function, nobody was delegated to receive us. We will keep knocking on their doors until we receive the answers that we need”, Adewuyi noted.
On her part, the Kwara State coordinator, NHRC, Bar Olaoye Jumoke, said “We came to meet our lawmakers to create awareness about the increase in rape cases and domestic violence in the state and at the national levels and to push for the adoption of the VAPP act that has not been domesticated in Kwara State.
“There are so many provisions that fit into what we are saying presently which will benefit the citizens at large when it is domesticated. But it is unfortunate that we came after we have written to them, nobody is on ground to receive us. We believed the main purpose why we are elected is also the main purpose why we are working for the federal government to better the lot of the citizens in Kwara State. But if we as an agency can be treated this way, what will happen to an ordinary person”, she added.
Jumoke however said the commission will continue to reach out to the lawmakers until the VAPP law is passed.
“We are not going to rest as a commission in collaboration with other CSOs so that Kwara State will partake from what other states are enjoying”, she added.
The project is also supported by FIDA and Nigerian League of Women Voters.