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Falana threatens legal action over Sexual Offences Bill

25 Jun
Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana(SAN) has said that one of the 46 bills hurriedly passed into law by the last Senate cannot stand the test of time as it contained obnoxious provisions and discriminates against victims.
While the new bill criminalised the defilement of children under 11 years, Falana noted that the minimum age of 18 years in the original Bill was in line with the provisions of the Child’s Rights Act, 2003 and the Child’s Rights Convention of the United Nations which has been ratified by Nigeria.
In a letter to nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka dated June 14, 2015, Falana and wife,Funmi accused the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Legal Matters for illegally removing the age of 18 years and replacing it with 11 years in the new bill.
The erudite lawyer and his wife Funmi, who is the founder of Women Empowerment and Legal Aid (WELA) claimed to have confirmed that the bill has not been forwarded to President Mohammadu Buhari for his assent as it has not been passed by the House of Representatives.
They have however threatened legal action if the bill is eventually passed into law with its obnoxious provisions.
“We shall not hesitate to pray the Federal High Court to strike it down in view of Article 18(3) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 which has imposed a duty on the Government of Nigeria to “ensure the elimination of every discrimination against women and ensure the protection of the rights of the woman and the child, as stipulated in international declarations and conventions”, as declared in the letter written to Prof. Wole Soyinka.
The Falanas thanked Prof. Soyinka for drawing the nation’s attention to the odious provision of the Sexual Offences Bill in their letter.
They stated in their letter to the nobel laureate the defunct the Senate of the 7th National Assembly, during its valedictory session, did not pay any attention to then provisions of the bill which was among the 46 bills hurriedly passed before their exit.
They recalled that Senator Chris Anyanwu who sponsored the Sexual Offences Bill had justified the urgent need to pass it to save our girls and women from sexual exploitation and molestation.
“When the Bill was unanimously passed for a second reading by the Senate on November 21, 2013, it sought to prescribe a penalty of life imprisonment for the offence of defilement of children less than 18 years of age.
“It also provided for compulsory documentation, supervision of sexual offenders and medical treatment for rape victims while it strengthened the weak protection offered victims and witnesses in trials for sexual offences.
“The minimum age of 18 years in the original Bill was in line with the provisions of the Child’s Rights Act, 2003 and the Child’s Rights Convention of the United Nations which has been ratified by Nigeria.
“The Bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Legal Matters for further legislative work. It was that Committee that illegally removed the age of 18 years and replaced it with 11 years. The inserted clause is inconsistent with section 29(4)(a) of the Nigerian Constitution which provides that “full age” means the age of 18 years and above.

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2015 in News and Events

 

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