Press Conference on the Implementation of the Provisions of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 Regarding Political Violence

Address by Prof. Fatima Waziri-Azi, Director General of NAPTIP, at the Press Conference on the Implementation of the Provisions of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act 2015 Regarding Political Violence. Which Held on Monday, 13th February, 2023 at The NAPTIP Headquarters, Abuja.

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you all to NAPTIP Headquarters for the first time in 2023. And thank you for your contributions to the counter trafficking and violence against persons’ efforts of the Agency. You have remained worthy and dependable partners, and our achievements this past year has been as a result of your collaboration and sustained relationship.

Now, the purpose of this briefing is to share with you the efforts of the Agency towards ensuring a peaceful and violence free 2023 elections as provided for in the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act of 2015, hereinafter referred to as the VAPP Act.

You may recall that following the enactment of the VAPP Act in 2015, NAPTIP was given additional responsibility to implement and enforce the Act, in the FCT. The Act provides a legal framework for the protection of persons against all forms of violence in private and public life.

The meaningful participation of all persons in political processes is key to achieving a more secure, prosperous and democratic society. However, this can be obstructed by political violence. Which is why section 23 and 24 of the VAPP Act prohibits all forms of Political Violence by individuals and state actors. Political Violence is any crime perpetrated in the course of political activities, like elections which includes: thuggery, mugging, use of force to disrupt meetings; or the use of dangerous weapons that may cause bodily harm or injury.

Specifically, Section 23 provides that ‘’A person who commits political violence is liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment of up to four years or a fine of up to five hundred thousand or both’’. The section also criminalizes any attempt to commit political violence; Inciting, Aiding, Abetting or Counselling another person to commit the crime including receiving or assisting a person to commit political crime

For political actors, that is, group of persons, structured or organized institutions and agencies, section 24 provides the punishment of imprisonment of up to four years or a fine of up to one million naira or both. Section 24 further provides that ‘’The state is liable for the offence committed by its Agents and the court shall award appropriate compensation commensurate with the extent and amount of damages.

The VAPP is very clear about what constitutes political violence and the different category of persons and groups that would be held liable for committing, inciting aiding, and abetting political violence in the FCT. These provisions are also applicable to the 35 States that have adopted the VAPP Act as law.

Based on the foregoing, and in the midst of political violence across the country since the beginning of the present electioneering process including those on INEC facilities, it has become necessary for the Agency to deliberately work with other sister law enforcement Agencies to implement the above referenced sections of the VAPP Act at this time.

In collaboration with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) the Agency has put in place a number of mechanisms targeted at sensitizing the public against perpetrating acts of political violence.

  • Since the beginning of this month, carefully curated jingles in English and pidgin have been airing on two local radio stations to warn FCT residents of the consequences of any act of political violence within this period.
  • Awareness creation materials including Posters and Red Card handbills have been produced for this purpose. These materials that would be unveiled today would be posted in strategic locations across the 6 Area Council of the FCT and the materials are designed to enhance the understanding of the public on what constitutes electoral violence, indicators, and punishments. This is expected to serve as a deterrent to all.
  • In addition, NAPTIP will mobilize its personnel to enforce the relevant sections of the VAPP Act during the upcoming elections. Duly trained Personnel of the Agency will be present at various polling centers at the Ward level, to monitor and ensure a peaceful voting exercise.

Gentlemen of the Press, the 2023 election is about ensuring a peaceful and violent free transition and NAPTIP is ready to play its part in safeguarding the integrity of our elections.

We implore residents of the FCT to take advantage of our reporting channels and report any act of political violence. In the same token, parents and guardians should please caution their children to stay away from all acts of violence within this election period. We also call on all security Agencies to provide NAPTIP the support it may require   to get the job done.

While thanking the Centre for Democracy and Development for their generous support and collaboration in the realization of this mandate, I wish to assure you that NAPTIP shall continue to scale its efforts to protect all persons against Human Trafficking and Violence Against Persons through a people centered access to justice, and the provision of safe spaces.

Thank you.

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