Foundation calls for effective implementation of VAPP Act

Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) has called for the effective implementation of the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act, following its findings from a national research on impact of the law in 12 focal states.

Recall that in 2021, WFD commissioned national research across 12 states in the 6 Geo-political zones in Nigeria.

The states are Anambra, Enugu, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Edo states, as well as in Bauchi, Kaduna, Plateau, Lagos Osun states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Country Representative of the foundation Adebowale Olorunmola, made the call in Abuja on Wednesday during the Validation of Policy Briefs / Passage, Assent, Gazetting, Execution (PAGE) analysis meeting it organised, to advance implementation of the VAPP Act in 12 focal states. 

Represented by the WFD Programme Manager Ms Sola Folayan, he explained that the research was an activity under its Global Equality Project (GEP) funded by the Foreign Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO), and seeks to encourage the protection of women and girls in Nigeria using the instrument of the law. 

He said, “The validation meeting happened simultaneously across the 12 states and had in attendance representatives from the Ministry of Women Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Budget, and planning, SGBV response team and Civil society Organizations.

“WFD believes that the 12 policy brief documents and the PAGE (Passage, Assent, Gazetting, Execution) Analysis scorecard will provide evidence-based information and current state context on VAPP Law, to guide decision makers in facilitating effective engagement towards successful implementation of the law”.

She stressed the need for the law to be gazetted to enable prosecuting officers use the law effectively.

 “Thus, gazetting the law is a necessity for effective implementation and execution,” Folayan said.

Earlier, the program Coordinator of the Global Equality Project Mrs. Edidiong Idang, spoke on the successes of the GEP project which includes a first assessment of the VAPP law since it was ratified in Nigeria in 2005.

Idang noted that the research revealed stakeholders who have high influence and interest in advocating for the implementation of the law in Nigeria, adding that the WFD identified the Nigerian Governor’s Wives Forum (NGWF) as one of such organizations and is being supported to advance sensitization on the law as well as stakeholders’ engagement for the domestication and effective implementation of the law across Nigeria.

“Advocacy for an inclusive gender sensitive budgeting should be the focus, now that many states in Nigeria have passed, assented to, gazetted and are executing the VAPP law,” she stated.

Presenting the policy briefs, Lead Consultant on the research Bunmi Dipo-Salami,  stressed the need for state governments to allocate budget and establish special courts to effectively implement the VAPP Act, in order to protect the rights of women, girls and vulnerable groups.

She explained that while some  states are effectively  implementating the VAPP Act, others haven’t shown strong political will towards effective implementation, stressing the need for special courts where cases can be easily heard to enable quick judgement on violence cases.

Meanwhile, a lawyer and Gender Base Activist, Ms Brenda Anugwom, said during the research in the FCT, it was observed that in the communities where there  were less educated women, SGBV was low, while the numbers is high in the city centres where educated women were found.

“Litigation on SGBV is slow and as such, only few conviction had been made. There is need for establishment of a special  ‘Human Rights Court’ that would focus only on SGBV and other related ‘sexual abuses,” she said.