By Job Osazuwa
The chairman of Global Prolife Alliance (GPA), Dr Philip Njemanze, made a stunning revelation at the Senate Public Health on the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Law review, saying that the law legalises abortion, same-sex marriage and bans use of Bible and Quran in public.
Alleging that the VAPP Law was foreign sponsored, Njemanze said: “As part of the Generation Equality Forum convened by UN women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France, a foundation announced a commitment of $2.1 billion over the next five years to advance women’s economic empowerment, strengthen women and girls’ health and family planning, and accelerate women’s leadership particularly in Africa. The VAPP Law 2021 is at the center of focus for the foundation’s programme.
” The national and states VAPP Law sponsored by the international anti-life movements and their billionaire philanthropist investors have used the VAPP law in the states to destroy Islam, Christianity, traditional institutions, and legalise abortion and same-sex marriage. The VAPP law is the domestication of the Maputo Protocol, which in Article 14 (c) mandates abortion all through nine months of pregnancy.
“The abortion could be done for all health conditions, including simple headache or vomiting. It could be claimed that ‘it endangers the mental and physical health of the mother’ as stated in the Maputo Protocol: Section 14(c) protect the reproductive rights of women by authorising medical abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother or the life of the mother or the foetus.
“The national and state sections differ in the different state VAPP laws but the content is very similar. Please find the corresponding sections in the state VAPP Law.”
On the highlight of the keypoints of his submission to the Senate, Njemanze explained: “In summary, the national and state VAPP laws have statues that accomplish the following: (1) legalises abortion; (2) recognises civil unions and legalises same-sex marriages, that will destroy the traditional Nigerian family; (3) bans use of Holy Bible and Holy Koran in public; (4) ordains women as priests of the Catholic Church and crowns women as kings of Nigerian communities; (5) designed to gag all voices of good moral teachings; (6) destroys the marriage act of union between a male person and a female person; (7) accused perpetrator is guilty until proven innocent; (8) charges preachers with sexual abuse; (8) accuses bishops, priests, pastors and Imams of sexual violence; (9) imprisons parents for scolding their children for sexual immorality; (10) spouse under the VAPP law includes same-sex couples and trans-sexuals.”
Does it mean that abortion is now legal in Nigeria? Njemanze answered: “Abortion is illegal in Nigeria. “However, the VAPP Law legalised abortion in most states using deceptive definitions of terms. For example, in Imo State, the VAPP Law defines ‘person’ as a human being, male or female; a human life from conception to natural death. This definition of a ‘person’ is deceptive. It sets out three criteria to be met to be a ‘person’ (1) a human being (2) male or female (3) human life that begins from conception to natural death.
“This definition of a ‘person’ is medically flawed. The foetus in the womb of the mother is a human being, but cannot be identified as a male or female until later in development and could only be verified after birth to be male or female in each case, even though the life has began at conception. “However, the identification as male or female could not be done because the foetus was killed in the dastardly act of abortion and contraception. The foetus does not meet the second criteria of the definition of the person under the VAPP Law. Hence the VAPP Law denied the foetus personhood, so if a foetus is killed in abortion and contraception no person was killed. “This is a grave crime against humanity that defies all known medical definition of life. The legislators by passing the VAPP Law have legalised abortion in Nigeria. The appropriate definition of a ‘person’ is a human being from the moment of conception to natural death.”
Some foreign sponsored NGOs are now talking about gays and the liberalisation introduced in the VAPP Law. Does the VAPP Law legalise same-sex marriage?
Njemanze answered: “VAPP Law legalises same-sex marriage. VAPP Law interprets the term: ‘Domestic relationship’ to mean a relationship between any person and a perpetrator of violence constituted in any of the following ways – (a) they are or were married to each other, including marriage according to Marriage Act, custom or religion. This definition of domestic relationship recognises civil unions since it says marriage between any persons, that could mean between persons of male sex and female sex (heterosexuals), and same-sex: male sex/male sex, female sex/female sex and trans-sexuals. The term ‘domestic relationship’ is a form of civil union not known in Nigerian law, religion or customs. The Marriage Act cited is not the Marriage Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it is any Marriage Act. Any Marriage Act could also be the same-sex Marriage Act of the State of California or New York. The Marriage Act must be specified and recognized according to the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. My recommendation is that, the VAPP Bill should be repealed for permitting civil unions, which will destroy the fabric of Nigerian society.”
On the allegation that sexual harrassment charged could be hanged on Bishops, Imams and priests preaching from the Bible or Koran in public, he said: “Yes, the VAPP Law bans the use of the Bible and Koran in public. The VAPP Law defines that ‘harassment’ as engaging in a pattern of conduct that induces fear or harm or impairs the dignity of a person.
“This definition of ‘harassment’ is too broad and targets to limit the spread of the gospel or Injil of good morals. The message of the gospel induces fear in a sinner, if the preacher says you must uphold the 10 Commandments or else you will go to hell fire. The aim of the ‘harassment” clause is to ban the preaching of the Word of God in the Bible and Quran.
“It therefore means that, if a woman or man committed adultery, and hears in the sermon that punishment for breaking the 10 Commandments is hellfire, this would surely induce fear. This makes the priest, pastor or imam a ‘perpetrator’ who has committed ‘harassment’ under the VAPP Law. It indicts the Bishop, who authorised the printing of the bulletin that says ‘any person that commits adultery, fornication, abortion would be liable to hell fire’ and shares the tracts, bulletins, text messages, emails and other means of communication to the people repeatedly. The Bishop could be sued for ‘sexual harassment’ since the message was sexual in nature and induced the fear of hell fire and impairs the dignity of the persons concerned. The aim of this clause is to gag religious preachers and destroy the moral fabric of Nigeria. If the VAPP Law was well intended, it should have an exclusionary clause that says: ‘But does not include teachings on good moral conduct in the context of religious and traditional moral teachings’. The VAPP Law was not well intended and should be repealed, rendered null and void, and of no effect.”
On the issue of some traditional rulers complaining that the known traditions of their land is threatened by the VAPP Law, Njemanze: “The VAPP Law really threatens to destroy our customs and traditions which had held our communties over several mellenia. VAPP Law uses deceptive language definitions of terms such as ‘harmful traditional practices’ to mean that all traditional behaviour, attitudes or practices, which negatively affect the fundamental rights and dignity of women, girls or any person such as – (a) denial of right of inheritance.
“The VAPP Law ordains women as priests of the Catholic Church and crowns women as ezes/obas/sultans of Nigerian communities. The right of inheritance includes right of inheritance of property, right of inheritance of chieftancy throne, right of inheritance of traditional position in a family, right of apostolic succession, etc. The Nigerian traditions have right of inheritance that is open to women and men but certain rights, like right to kingship throne, is reserved for male children, because the kingship is also a priestly position in religion. “This goes into the area of freedom of religion in the constitution. This follows the same tradition as the ‘male apostolic succession right’ of the Catholic Church priesthood. The architects of the VAPP Law outlawed the male-only kingship institution to destroy the traditional leadership institution, and by extension destroyed the male apostolic succession of the Catholic Church. “Their aim is to destroy the Church and remove both the religious and traditional restrictions to immoral conduct in society. I recommended that, this clause should be specific and state:
denial of right to inheritance of parental land and movable property according to the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Unfortunately, the VAPP Law used the inheritance rights to destroy the traditional and religious institutions.”
Njemanze further said: “It is correct to say that the VAPP Law gags all preachers from teaching the Christian or Islamic moral codes. The VAPP Law uses the term ‘intimidation’ to mean the uttering or conveying of a threat or causing any person to receive a threat which induces fear, anxiety or discomfort. By this definition, the VAPP Law was designed to gag all voices of good moral teachings. This definition of ‘intimidation’ is too broad and targets to limit teaching of good morals. It indicts parents, priests, pastors, imams, traditional rulers who preach against evil social practices. There is need for an exclusionary clause such as: ‘But does not include teachings on good moral conduct in the context of religious and traditional moral teachings’.”
Explaining that aside from the issue of same-sex marriage, some groups of trans-gender are claiming legitimacy by the VAPP Law, Njemanze said: “It is true that the VAPP Law legalizes all forms of marriages. The VAPP Law defines ‘marriage’ to mean a union between a man and a woman as recognized under the Marriage Act, Customary Law, Islamic Law and Christian doctrine.
“This definition of ‘marriage’ is deceptive since it does not mention the biological sex and under which Marriage Act. It could as well be the same-sex marriage act of the State of New York. It must stipulate the exact Marriage Act Law in Nigeria or recognized as marriage under the laws of the country.
“The VAPP law uses the social construct terms ‘man and woman’ and not the biological terms ‘male and female’ as a means of deception. In a homosexual marriage, one spouse is a ‘man’ and the other spouse a ‘woman’, so that a marriage is said to be between a man and a woman under the same-sex marriage act of New York, for example.
“Note, it is same-sex of male/male, female/female, but in the social construct terms (recognized by the UN Yogyakarta Protocol) ‘man and woman’ of the same-sex. It also allows for marriages of trans-sexual persons no matter where those marriages were held under the marriage act of that country. The correct definition of ‘marriage’ means a union between a biological male and a biological female as recognized under the laws of Nigeria in the Marriage Act, Customary Law, Islamic Law and Christian doctrine.”
The prolifer added: “The clergy have raised well founded concerns about the VAPP Law. Take for instance the definition of the term ‘perpetrator’ means any person who has committed or alleged to have committed an act of violence under this law. This definition of a ‘perpetrator’ is illegal and unconstitutional. It is based on an illegal principle of guilty until proven innocent instead of innocent until proven guilty. If a priest is alleged to have spoken words in a sermon like ‘adulterers would go to hell fire’ from the scriptures and someone accuses him of ‘emotional abuse’, from that moment the priest is charged as a ‘perpetrator of violence under this law’. Regardless, of the fact that the offence was not proven in any court of competent jurisdiction in Nigeria. The aim of the detractors is to gag the Church from preaching the Word of God from the Scriptures or Koran. A Bishop would be arraigned as a ‘perpetrator of violence against women’ under the VAPP law for his sermon even before any court has heard the case. This is a miscarriage of justice. This VAPP Law should be repealed, rendered null and void and of no effect.”
On the assertion by some civil society activists and clergy that the VAPP Law could be used to create scandals, Njemanze remarked: “The foreign architects of the VAPP Law targeted the Nigerian clergy and social activitsts by creating room for so-called ‘sexual abuse’. In the VAPP Law, the interpretation of the term ‘sexual abuse’ means any conduct which violates, humiliates or degrades the sexual integrity of any person.
“This broad definition was specifically designed to create scandals labelled ‘sexual Abuse’. If an Archbishop in a sermon says, ‘some of you men and women who have committed adultery have sinned against God and your partners’. Anyone at the Mass could claim that this message clearly violates, humiliates and degrades his or her sexual integrity (Dictionary meaning of integrity: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles). This would mean that, the Archbishop would be charged for ‘sexual abuse’.
“The news of the charge of the Archbishop for ‘sexual abuse’ under the VAPP Law would destroy the credibility of the Church even though no details would be provided on what the actual charge involved. The aim of the detractors is to use such headlines as ‘Archbishop of Kwambe charged for sexual abuse’ to destroy the reputation of the Church. “Similarly, in Islam, they could generate satanic headlines. VAPP Law deliberately inserted the ‘sexual abuse clause” to cause scandals. There is the ‘sexual assault’ clause which targets real offenders. The VAPP Laws should be repealed, rendered null and void, and of no effect.”
Njemanze further said: “In the VAPP Law ‘sexual violence’ means any physical, sexual, emotional or psychological violence or trauma inflicted on a person (male or female). This includes rape, violence, threat of violence, coercion, arbitrary deprivation of liberty or dignity, whether occurring in public or private. “The aim here is to use the VAPP Law to accuse bishops, priests, pastors and Imams of sexual violence. The VAPP Law has yet another deceptive ’emotional sexual violence’ clause. How does one commit ’emotional sexual violence’ under the VAPP law? A priest, pastor or imam condemning homo-sexuality, fornication, adultery could be accused of evoking emotional distress in those implicated. The priest, pastor or imam could be charged for emotional sexual violence in public under the VAPP law.
“The aim of the international detractors of Nigeria funding this VAPP Law is to outlaw the use of the Bible and Koran, and imprison bishops, priests, pastors or imams for preaching from the holy books in public.
“In the VAPP Law, the term ‘sexual harassment’ means unwanted conduct of a sexual nature or other conduct based on sex, which is persistent or serious and demeans, humiliates or creates a hostile or intimidating environment. This may include physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct. The broad definition in the VAPP Law would mean that parents could be imprisoned for scolding their children for sexual immorality.
“The term ‘sexual harassment’ was defined to include verbal utterances about any sexual acts without exemption to moral admonishments. A mother who criticises her daughter for engaging in the malpractice of sex-for-marks in the university could be charged of ‘sexual harassment’ under the VAPP Law, since there is no exemption for admonishment of evil sexual acts and immorality. The aim of the detractors is to create an immoral Nigerian society where correction of evil acts is made impossible by the VAPP Law.”
A major controversy was generated by the term spouse. Why is that? Take this from Njemanze. “In the VAPP Law, the term ‘spouse’ means a male sex (husband) or a female sex (wife) as recognized under the Marriage Act, Customary Law, Islamic Law and Christian doctrine which qualifies either and both to be called spouse(s). They were not specific on which Marriage Act, and no juridiction was mentioned. It would depend on which Marriage Act was used, it could by Nigerian or Marriage Act of California or New York. This ambiquity was on purpose. This latter broad definition in the VAPP Law means that a spouse includes same-sex couples and trans-sexuals, depending on the marriage act applied. The correct application of the term ‘spouse’ refers to persons in a covenantal conjugal union of a biological male person and biological female person in a partnership by their own free will. The VAPP Laws at national and in all states should be repealed, rendered null and void, and of no effect.”