(By Iheanyi Ezinwo) – An ad hoc committee of the Rivers State House of Assemblyhas conducted a public hearing on Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Bill, 2019, a proposed law that has attempted to broaden the definition of rape, amplified domestic and political violence in order to make prosecution of offenders effective.

Speaking at the event at the Rivers State House of Assembly auditorium on Thursday, chairman of the ad hoc committee, Hon. Enemi Alabo George noted that the issue of violence against persons was a topical one, adding that it affects all citizens – females, males and children.

The lawmaker, who further stated that the statistics of violence was alarming, especially intimate partner violence, hinted that the historic bill will affect the lives of every body and that, when passed will make infractions justiciable.

Some of those who contributed at the public hearing demanded for the removal of the option of fines or increase in the amount, life imprisonment and community service in lighter cases and to be served in the area where the infraction occurred in order to serve as deterrent to others.

Those who participated in the public hearing on the Bill on the Prohibition of Violence Against Persons, 2019 included the offices of the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Rivers State, Ministry of Women Affairs, African Women Lawyers Association, International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA; Medical Women Association of Nigeria, Civil Society Network and Nigerian Bar Association, Port Harcourt chapter, among others.
In his remarks, majority leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Martins Amaewhule, explained that the bill was co-sponsored by Hon. Sam Ogeh and himself, and that the intention was to protect all citizens against violence.

He assured that the ad hoc committee will look at the contributions from stakeholders and make recommendations accordingly to the Rivers state House of Assembly for consideration and passage.