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Rivers Assembly amends, passes law to protect widows, women

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The Rivers House of Assembly has passed into law the State Dehumanizing and Harmful Practices Abolition Amendment Bill of 2019. The move is aimed at stopping the abuse and exploitation of widows by putting in place stiffer penalties and punishments for violators of women’s rights.The new piece of legislation repeals the principal law known as the Rivers State Dehumanizing and Harmful Practices Abolition Law No 2 of 2003.

The member representing Emohua constituency, Sam Ogeh, who sponsored the bill, proposed stiffer penalties for those still engaging in traditional harmful practices against persons, especially women and widows in the rural areas. He mulled that defaulters should be made to face a two-year jail term or an option of N500,000 fine to serve as a deterrent to others.

Ogeh argued that the payment of N10,000 fine as contained in the principal law encourages defaulters to continue in their nefarious act, as the amount was almost negligible.

Contributing, the House Leader, Martins Amaehule, noted: “In spite of the principal law which has been on ground for about two decades, people still violate it. We need stiffer penalties to further deter those who are still engaging in these dehumanising acts, those who will continue to make our women make use of water used in bathing the corpses of their late husbands either for drinking or bathing.

They should not be allowed to pay the paltry sum of N10,000. Their actions are evil and must be stopped.”Speaker of the House, Ikuinyi Owaji Ibani, after listening to the debate, conducted a vote on the passage of the bill and all the lawmakers present voted in favour of the piece of legislation.

He said: “Fines have been canvassed in the proposed bill sponsored by Honourable Sam Ogeh. N500,000 in relation to Section 2 of the principal law and N300,000 in relation to the amended section, hence a Bill for Dehumanizing and Harmful Practices Abolition Amendment Bill of 2019 and other related matters is hereby passed into law.”

The chairman, House Committee on Information and Training, Enemi George, explained that the amended bill addresses all the insignificant fractions in the principal law. He said its passage without public hearing was deliberate because there was an upcoming bigger bill titled “Violence against persons Act” that would address all the dehumanisation concerns, adding that during its public hearing, all related matters would be addressed.


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Rivers AssemblySam Ogeh
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