UJU ONWUDIWE SHINES, AS STATE ASSEMBLY PASSES VAPP BILL INTO LAW
•RAPE, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, SEXUAL ASSAULT, FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION, HARMFUL TRADITIONAL PRACTICES CAPTURED
•CULPRITS RISK LONG JAIL TERM
•TO ESTABLISH SEXUAL ASSAULT REFERRAL CENTRE
The 9th House, 3rd Assembly of the Imo State House of Assembly on Tuesday, July 27, 2021 recorded another milestone by passing into Law another private-member Bill targeted at eradicating all forms violence among residents of Imo State.
Since the inception of the present House, apart from the Oguta Constituency Lawmaker Hon Frank Ugboma, another Legislator to have her bill keenly debated and passed into Law, is Rt. Hon. Uju Onwudiwe representing Njaba State Constituency.
Passed into Law during Tuesday plenary session was a House of Assembly Bill No: 14 titled;
“A Bill for a Law to eliminate violence in private and public life, prohibit all forms of violence including physical, sexual,
psychological, domestic, harmful traditional practices, discrimination against persons and to provide maximum protection and effective remedies for victims and punishment of offenders”.
The bill finally saw the light of the day after seven months it passed through the first and second reading, as well as the public hearing held in December 7, 2021.
It is basically hinged on fighting sexual assaults like rape of either gender (men or women).
It also frowns at any act or form of female genital mutilation, with stringent punishment to be dispensed against culprits.
Also covered by the new Law is the fight against harmful traditional practices, infringement on the rights and dignity of women, girls, or any person Such as; Denial of right of inheritance, banishment, trial by ordeal, marrying or giving out underage girl into early marriage, forced marriage to a man or woman without consent, female infanticide, virginity testing, forced pregnancy, stigmatization of pregnancy outside marriage, trying of any person for witchcraft, trafficking of persons, sexual slavery.
Contained also in the Bill are fight against all sort of sexual offences like abuse, defamation, intimidation, substance attack, stalking.
Other harm as; physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss, wrongful arrest and detention, torture, use of force without lawful authority, unlawful entry into the premises of the would-be established VAPP Agency/Board, demolition of property without due process.
The Bill further gave credence to the 21 years imprisonment for anyone convicted of rape in Imo State.
A carrier of any deadly disease/STDs willfully infected a potential victim also would be jailed for 14years.
Having an unlawful carnal knowledge of a disabled or vulnerable attracts a 14 years jail term.
Interestingly, the State House of Assembly in the Bill proposed for budgetary allocation to the Agency for “Sexual Assault Referral Centre, SARC”, for the maintenance and effective implementation of the contents of the Law and potential victims.
Part of the Bill stipulates that, “Where death occurred as a result of female genital mutilation or the victim dies within one year from the injuries inflicted during the act, the offender shall be sentenced to life imprisonment”.
Refusing any police officer, Law officer or service provider access to premises where acts of violence occurred, or is suspected to be occurring, the actors shall face four years of jail term or fine not below five hundred thousand naira, #500,000 or both.
Reacting after the plenary session, the chief sponsor of the Bill, Hon. Uju Onwudiwe expressed gratitude to the Lawmakers for finding the Bill worthy of passage into Law.
Onwudiwe thanked the Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma and the First Lady, Barr. Chioma Uzodinma for their resilience in ensuring that the people, especially the vulnerable persons are given due protection against harm, hence their unrelentless support for the Bill.
Hon. Uju Onwudiwe termed the Bill as the “People’s Bill”, pointing out that Ndi Imo would heave a sigh of relief that at last, victims of the aforementioned have a strong backbone to rely on when endangered.
According to Igolo Njaba, the Law is no longer in the hands of victims or family of the victims, but the State Government who would be taking decisive actions when such need arises.
She was optimistic that sanity and respect for each other has returned in the State with the passage of the Bill into Law.
Onwudiwe maintained that the bill as erroneously conceived by some persons ab initio has nothing to do against the norms, customs and traditions of the land, but only to protect and fight injustice seen in the society.
The plenary session was presided by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Amarachi Chyna Iwuanyanwu.
Having passed through the Legislative processes, the Bill awaits Governor’s assent.
EX DEPUTY SPEAKER IN TROUBLE
•FACES ASSEMBLY PROBE FOR ALLEGED PURCHASE OF “TOKUNBO JEEPS FOR IMO LAWMAKERS
It is definitely a trial period for the member representing Mbaitoli State Constituency in Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Okey Onyekanma, as he is up for a high powered probe panel.
Onyekanma is facing probe for the purchase and distribution of the official vehicles given to the present State Legislators.
Recall that Rt. Hon. Okey Onyekanma emerged the first Deputy Speaker of the House, immediately after the inauguration of the 9th House in June 2019.
He served under the short lived tenure of the Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha as then Governor of Imo State, under the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
But the change of guard in the Leadership of the House somersaulted following the Supreme Court judgement that enthroned the APCs, Governor Hope Uzodinma.
During his stay as the number two Imo Lawmaker, Onyekanma was accused to have had a hand in the contract to deliver the twenty-seven Prado jeeps the Lawmakers were given to, as official vehicles.
Trumpeta Assembly Vibes learnt that murmuring and disapproval had persistently greeted the said official vehicles since last year.
While some of the Lawmakers claimed they were given refurbished jeeps instead of brand new (direct tear leather), others accused Onyekanma of making huge profits with a money mapped out by the then Emeka Ihedioha administration to procure official vehicles for the members, but was accused to have chose to order fairly used.
The claims may have been finally made open during Tuesday July 27, 2021 plenary session.
At the chambers, the member for Ohaji/Egbema LGA, Hon. Heclus Cyriacus Okoro presented a petition titled, “A petition against the fraudulent circumstances surrounding the purchase of the 27 Prado jeeps of the members of Imo State House of Assembly”.
The Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Amara Chyna Iwuanyanwu who presided over the plenary session on receiving the petition, constituted a 5-man ad-hoc committee to look into the petition.
Rt. Hon. Collins Chiji (Former Speaker) is the Chairman of the Committee, while the members are Honorables; Emeka Nduka, Johnson Iheonukara Duru, Kanayo Dele Onyemaechi, and, Amara Iwuanyanwu are members.
According to the Deputy Speaker, the Committee is to report back on August 6, 2021.
Apparently confident in divine intervention, the member representing Ikeduru State Constituency in Imo State House of Assembly, Hon. Amb. Uche Ogbuagu has handed his matter over to God.
Reasons for that may not be unconnected to the manner and events that orchestrated his suspension by the Leadership of the 9th House, led by Speaker Paul Emeziem.
Ogbuagu was suspended alongside other five of the Lawmakers, over alleged acts considered unparliamentary and insubordination.
However, dismissing a document of a Law suit against the State Legislature which dominated the social media last week, the Ikeduru representative declared that he has handed all to God Almighty.
Reiterating that he never approached any Court in attempt to challenge the suspension handed on him, Hon. Uche Ogbuagu through a press release to that effect, obtained by Trumpeta Newspaper, said, he made his position clear on same day the suspension gavel was hit against him and five others.
He maintained that he has handed it all over to the Most Supreme Court of Heaven and Earth.
He said, “My Judge doesn’t act in a hurry, but He is always on time, never late. My hands are clean and He must give me Victory. When He sends a man on an errand, He equips him and fights his battles. Thus far He has led me, He has been too faithful to fail”.
He further expressed optimism that since the suspended members in the APC party have met with the party’s Leadership not quite long, they look forward to hearing from them.
“Also, the State Chief Executive, His Excellency, Senator Hope Uzodinma, Governor of Imo State, the father of the party, who is the reason why I joined the APC has not yet spoken on the matter. All these avenues have not yet been exhausted, hence, there is no need for any litigation by me. I didn’t approach any court in Abuja”.
“Am at awe who is doing this, and what the person tends to achieve. I am man of destiny. I didn’t send myself to the State Assembly. Let no man fight whoever God has sent on a mission. Let those who used my name, prove to the world how, when and where I filed the matter. The same people who pronounced me suspended may be the same people behind all these. But, I am not bothered, as Vegeance is of God. He has promised, He will never fail me”, Hon. Ogbuagu added.
ISU LAWMAKER DECRIES “JUNGLE JUSTICE ” IN IMO COMMUNITIES, AS IMHA WADES IN
Irked by the increasing rate of jungle justice and lynching recorded in Imo communities, the Member for Isu State Constituency, Rt. Hon. Ngozi Obiefule has advocated for measures towards ending the menace.
The female Legislator decried the loss of human life, especially among Imo youths.
Presenting the motion at the floor of the Chambers yesterday, Wednesday July 28, 2021, Hon. Obiefule told the House that on June 21, 2021, two of Isu born youths were lynched by yet to be apprehended culprits.
She stated that the victims, messrs; Chigaemezu Uzoma, and Chinanu Nwosu from Isuokporo in Isu LGA met their untimely death at Owerre-Ebeiri of Orlu LGA on June 21, 2021.
Reasons for their killing, according to Obiefule remain a mystery as no investigation to that effect has been carried out till now.
According to her, the victim owns a mini phone shop at Orlu and shuttles from his hometown to the place with his motorcycle.
Only to be accused and sent to his early grave without proper investigation.
She pleaded for a stop of such inhumane behavior among Imo communities.
Supporting the motion, Hons; Ekene Nnodumele, Johnson Iheonukara Duru, Amara Iwuanyanwu expressed displeasure on the news.
The House observed a minute silent for their souls, while calling for sanity and respect for humanity across the length and breadth of Imo.
The House led by Speaker Paul Emeziem however resolved to urge the Commissioner of Police to properly investigate and fish out the alleged killers of the two young men so as to end the lynching of suspects in the State, and also resolved that any traditional Ruler who extrajudicial killing is done in his community will be held accountable.
It was further resolved that the House that the families of the deceased young men be duly communicated and compensated by the Owerre-Ebeiri community.