Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has charged the National Orientation Agency (NOA), ministries of women affairs, communication as well as the media to publicise the provisions of the new Violence Against Persons (VAP) Law, which includes life imprisonment, without an option of fine for perpetrators of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the state.
Obaseki who gave the charge in Benin City on Thursday in Benin City, the state capital, said that after signing the Violence Against Persons Bill into Law, there was urgent need to drive the awareness campaign to every nook and cranny of the state.
“This is one law that is dear to my heart and the hearts of all stakeholders that supported it right from its conception, through its consideration in the Edo State House of Assembly.
“Having a law against female genital mutilation is a major step but ensuring that people are aware of its existence is very important in our new resolve to rid Edo State of the practice,” the governor said.
He added: “I urge all relevant government agencies with the mandate of publicising government activities, policies and programmes as well as members of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to take the message to the grassroots so that we can achieve the desired impact.”
Governor Obaseki on Tuesday signed the Violence Against Persons (VAP) Bill into law, to address all forms of violence and protect vulnerable members of the society.
Signing the bill in Government House, Benin City, he noted that he was aware that the bill touches on fundamental practices among the people, assuring that he was not only signing the bill as a formality, but will ensure it is implemented to the letter.
“We will not stop here by just signing the bill into law, but will commence the much difficult work of implementing it to the letter. It must be noted that this bill has been in consideration for over six to eight years but the time has come for us to have a law like this VAP Law, to protect the most vulnerable and weak in our society.
“As a government, we have aligned with the Federation of Women Lawyer (FIDA)’s purpose and objective and therefore have no hesitation in signing the bill into law,” he said.
“I want to appreciate FIDA for their doggedness, leadership and commitment to this cause. I am not sure many other states in the nation has such bills. This bill goes to the core of some of the most pressing issues in society particularly violence against women and other persons.”
Speaker, Edo State House of Assembly (EDHA), Hon. Kabiru Adjoto, told the governor that the newly signed VAP law will eliminate violence in private and public life.
“This bill prohibits violence against all persons and provides maximum protection and effective remedy for victims and punishment for offenders and other related matters,” he said.
“This bill was sent to the EDHA in the fourth Assembly but suffered a setback. It also suffered a setback in the fifth Assembly but it was passed in the sixth Assembly.”
Adjoto commended the wife of Edo State Governor, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki for her doggedness, dedication, and commitment in ensuring that the bill is passed into law.
He said rape is properly defined in the bill and a rapist will now spend his or her life in prison, adding, “If a man beats his wife, he risks two years in prison if the case is proven. It is now an offense for men to abandon their duties of upbringing as the responsibility is not for women alone. Female genital mutilation now attracts life imprisonment without an option of fine.”
Wife of Edo State Governor, Mrs. Betsy Obaseki, commended the Edo State Governor for assenting to the VAP bill, stressing that the government is gender-sensitive.
She thanked the speaker of the sixth Assembly, Hon. Kabiru Adjoto for ensuring the passage of the bill and that all important sections are intact.
“This bill takes care of everything related to violence against persons,” she noted.