Nigeria: Bill to Criminalise Stigmatisation of Victims of Insurgency Passes Second Reading

Dapchi schoolgirls insurgency victims (File photo).
12 March 2020

Abuja — The House of Representatives yesterday passed for second reading a bill for an Act meant to prohibit the stigmatisation of victims of insurgency or militancy.

The proposed legislation, which was sponsored by Hon. Ben Rollands Igbakpa, would provide for the arrest, prosecution and punishment of those found guilty of stigmatising victims of insurgency.

Leading the debate on the bill, Igbakpa said stigmatisation against victims of insurgency and militancy should qualify as an offence with prescribed terms of imprisonment.

He listed the categories of victims of insurgency as direct casualties rape, molested men and internally displaced persons.

The lawmaker said the implications of stigmatisation are dire public embarrassment, social disorientation, solitude, compromised sense of identity and sometimes suicide.

He lamented that instead of getting embraced and fully integrated back to society, the victims were further estranged from the society.

Igbakpa urged other lawmakers to provide necessary legal framework to safeguard and protect victims of insurgency as vulnerable members of society.

"Stigmatisation is a damaging social phenomenon that is potent enough to severely alter the existential realities of its victims," he said.

However, the bill was opposed by Hon. Obinna Chidoka, who pointed out that both the head and body of the bill were disjointed.

Also, Hon. Toby Okechukwu said the bill was not necessary because what the bill sought to remedy has been taken care of by the Human Rights Act.

Okechukwu said: "The constitution is very clear as regards to our rights. The provisions of the constitution said that no person should be stigmatised or discriminated upon. Anyone one who goes against that law would be going against the constitution."

Meanwhile, the House has also adopted a motion on the 'Need to Provide and Protect the Interests of Blind Students (Special Students) in the Higher Institutions of Learning,' which was sponsored by Hon. Henry Nwawuba.

The bill would seek to enjoin the Federal Ministry of Education, the National Universities Commission and educational institutions to come up with programs that would enable blind students to attain their full potentials.

It also mandated the Committees on Basic Education and Services, Tertiary Education and Services to liaise with the Ministry of Education towards having a forum in anticipation of harmonised program for special students that would enable them to attain higher education.

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